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Fast start propels Spartans into semifinals

LEXINGTON, KY. – Manchester University resumed its recent run of stout defensive efforts Friday, Feb. 22.

The fifth-seeded Spartans, improving to 11-15 overall with a 48-32 win over fourth-seeded Defiance in quarterfinal round play at the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, limited the Yellowjackets (14-12) to six first half points and 26 percent field goal shooting. The Black and Gold, picking up their third consecutive win, bolted out to a 22-6 halftime advantage and didn't look back.

Junior forward Erynn Meiklejohn (Fort Wayne, Ind.), as she has during Manchester University's current unbeaten string, turned in a big effort on both ends of the court. She hit five-of-10 field goal tries, which included one-of-two from beyond the arc, for 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked three Defiance shot attempts and picked up three steals as part of her second double-double of the year. Freshman guard Katie Arterburn (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 10 points.

"Overall, it was another good team win," Manchester University head coach Josh Dzurick said. "Our defense created some tough opportunities (for Defiance) early, and we were able to be physical in the post which helped us rebound well.

"I was also proud of how we handled the change in tempo early in the second half when (Defiance) started pushing the ball," he added. "We played hard for 40 minutes. Erynn did a great job leading the way for us. We needed someone to step up and have a big game tonight, and she did."

The victory moved the Black and Gold into the semifinal round of the conference tournament for the second time in three seasons. They face off against top-seeded and league champion Transylvania University Saturday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m. inside the Beck Center on TU's campus.

NOTES: Meiklejohn's numbers over the last three games have been impressive. She's averaging 14.3 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots per contest while hitting better than 55 percent from the field (19-of-34). … MU's three-game win skein is the program's longest since the 2011-12 squad reeled off five in a row in the middle of the year. … Defiance's six-point first half total marked the second time in the last three games that the Black and Gold has held the opposition to single digits in a half. … MU's defense, allowing the opposing offense only 38.3 ppg over the last three outings, has a stretch of seven straight games where they've surrendered less than 60 ppg.