Lady Spartans Outlast Bluffton

NORTH MANCHESTER – The Manchester University women’s basketball team survived a furious rally by visiting Bluffton on Wednesday night. The Spartans held off the Beavers 69-65, earning their fifth win in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play.

Manchester started Wednesday’s contest with a strong first period. MU outscored the Beavers by 10, 17-7, in the opening frame after shooting 57 percent (8-14) from the field. Bluffton was limited to just 3-14 shooting in the first quarter.

Both teams heated up in the second quarter. The Spartans and Beavers each scored 20 points and both sides shot better than 50 percent from the floor. Manchester led 37-27 at the break.

The Black and Gold complied another strong period following the intermission as Manchester outscored BU 19-11 in the third frame.  Manchester’s lead ballooned to 20 points due in in large part to its stifling defense – Bluffton was limited to 5-19 shooting in the third quarter.

Bluffton turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter and the Beavers’ full-court press was able to lead to several turnovers and quick baskets. Bluffton was able to trim its 22-point deficit down to just seven points with 2:11 remaining in the game.

The Spartans were able to break the Beavers’ pressure late and converted several key free throws down the stretch to seal their first win over Bluffton since February 15.

Hillery Shepherd sunk a pair of free throws to put the Spartans ahead 68-60 with 22 seconds left in the game. After Bluffton scored five quick points, Bridget Nash made one of two foul shots to seal the game.

The Spartans shot 47.3 percent (26-55) from the floor on Wednesday night. MU also knocked down five 3-pointers. Bluffton was limited to 35.7 percent (25-70) shooting and went just 3-21 from 3-pointer territory.

Shepherd scored 12 of her career-high 16 points in the first half to lead the Black and Gold offense. Forward Macy Miller scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Senior captain Haley Farris provided a much-needed veteran presence for the Manchester backcourt on Wednesday night. Farris, returning from an ankle injury, scored four points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists, and came up with a pair of steals.

Noteworthy – Wednesday night’s win over Bluffton was MU’s first win over the Beavers since February 2015. The Spartans are now 7-0 when holding opponents under 70 points.

Up Next – Manchester improved to 8-8, 5-4 HCAC on the year with the win. The Black & Gold will travel to Mount St. Joseph at 3 p.m.  Saturday.

Spartans Rally for road win

BLUFFTON, Ohio – The Manchester University men’s basketball team was able to overcome another double-digit deficit on the road on Wednesday night, rallying for a 52-48 victory at Bluffton. Earlier this month, the Spartans rallied from an early double-digit deficit at Earlham College.

Bluffton built a 17-7 advantage midway through the first half. The Beavers’ extended their lead to 12 points, 25-13, with just over three minutes left to play in the opening period.

Manchester clawed back to within striking distance as the Black and Gold ended the half on a 7-3 run and trailed by just eight points, 28-20.

Manchester cut its deficit to just two points, 36-34, following a pair of free throws by Jalen Owens at the 12:51 mark. The Beavers scored the next five points to push their lead back up to seven points.

The Black and Gold used a 9-0 run over the next four minutes of action to wrestle control of Wednesday’s game from Bluffton.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Matthew Westman with 1:57 remaining put the Spartans ahead for good on Wednesday night. The Spartans were able to get several key stops defensively late and Keiton Hall made two free throws with three seconds remaining to seal the win.

Westman led Manchester with 16 points while Jalen Owens finished with 11 points off the bench. CJ Hampton scored 10 points and grabbed seven rounds.

Noteworthy – Manch-ester handed Bluffton just its fourth loss in the Sommer Center in the past two years. Bluffton is now 17-4 at home since 2018.

Up Next – Manchester will travel to Cincinnati on Saturday for a 5 p.m. road matchup against Mount St. Joseph.

Fantuzzi named FB assistant coach

NORTH MANCHESTER – Head football coach Nate Jensen has announced the addition of assistant coach Jeff Fantuzzi to his coaching staff. Fantuzzi will work with the Spartan offensive line.

 Fantuzzi comes to North Manchester following a season at Albion College in Michigan. Jeff served as an assistant coach for the Britons, working with the tight ends and tackles. Albion posted an 8-2, 5-2 MIAA record in 2019.

Other coaching stops for Fantuzzi include working as an offensive graduate assistant coach at Wayne State University, serving as the offensive line coach at Anchor Bay High School (Mich.), and serving as the running backs and tight ends coach at Finlandia University.

Fantuzzi played collegiately at Division I Central Michigan University where he was an offensive lineman. A Mid-American Conference Champion in 2009, Fantuzzi was also a member of a pair of bowl championships (2009 GMAC Bowl and 2012 Little Caesars Bowl) during his time at Central Michigan.  

Fantuzzi graduated from CMU in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in sports management and broadcasting. He earned his master's degree in sports administration from Wayne State in 2019.