Defense dominates in No. 16 Panthers' win at Defiance

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HANOVER, Ind. – The No. 16 Hanover men's basketball team conceded less than 60 points for the second consecutive game, defeating Defiance on the road Saturday afternoon, 74-51.

The Panthers (7-2, 3-1 HCAC) have now won four straight games over Defiance (3-5, 2-2 HCAC), and each of the last three meetings at the Karl H. Weaner Center. Over the three-game road winning streak, HC has outscored Defiance by an average margin of 22 points per game.

Hanover's recent defensive stretch marks the first time since January 2016 that the team has held back-to-back opponents to under 60 points. The Panthers forced the Yellow Jackets into a 36.1 field goal percentage, while enjoying a .519 shooting clip themselves Saturday.

Juniors Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio) and Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) combined for 30 points, posting 16 and 14 respectively. Fails also stuffed the stat sheet with a season high five assists, four rebounds and three steals. White also swiped three passes and was able to net seven of his eight field goal attempts in the game.

A trio of Panthers added nine points, including sophomore Logan Ratts (Martinsville, Ind.), who also added a career high eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. Senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) and sophomore Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.)also tallied nine points. Ratts, Fails and White combined for nine of HC's 10 steals Saturday.

Defiance jumped out to an early lead, scoring eight of the first 10 points over the first 2:48 of play. Hanover however, rallied to capture its first lead of the game at 15-14, as a three pointer from Fails capped a 13-6 scoring spurt with 11:55 left before halftime.

Leading 26-23 with 6:11 remaining in the opening half, the Blue and Red defense forced DC into an 0-for-6 shooting effort and five turnovers for a 36-26 advantage at the intermission.

Hanover continued to extend its lead in the second half, as it ballooned to as many as 30 points, 71-41, with less than four minutes to play. The Blue and Red led by 20 or more points over the final eight minutes of regulation.

Behind the passing efforts of Fails and Ratts, Hanover posted at least 20 helpers for the third time this season, outgaining the Yellow Jackets 20-8 Saturday. Five Panthers recorded multiple assists in the contest.

The HC defense forced Defiance into 15 turnovers, which resulted in 17 points. The Panthers did most of their damage in the first half, scoring 13 times off 11 Yellow Jacket giveaways.

Hanover will now turn its attention to a Top 20 showdown against No. 20 Marietta Friday, Dec. 29. The Panthers and Pioneers will open tournament play at the Wittenberg (Ohio) Kiwanis Holiday Classic with a 4:30 p.m. tip. The Blue and Red will close out the Holiday Classic against Ohio-Chillicothe the next day, Dec. 30.

Contact: Tyler Jester