(RV) Dordt University held off a late, fourth-quarter rally to hand No.4 Marian (Ind.) its first loss of the season, 62-56, on a neutral floor in Orange City, Iowa.
The Defenders have won three straight games, all against teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA preseason poll, and improve to 4-1 this season.
Ashtyn Veerbeek poured in game-high 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Bailey Beckman contributed 11 points and Mya Chmielewski scored 10, including back-to-back lay-ups during the final minute to help put away the Knights.
Leading by two (27-25) at the half, Dordt outscored the Knights 19-12 in the third quarter to take a 46-37 lead. Karly Gustafson knocked down a three-pointer at the five-minute mark and began a 13-6 run to close the quarter. The Defenders excelled on the defensive end, limiting Marian to just two field goals over the final 5-plus minutes.
A Beckman three-pointer gave Dordt its largest lead, 52-40, with just over six minutes left to play. The fourth-rated Knights stormed back, however, outscoring the Defenders 14-2 over the next four minutes to tie the game at 54.
Hayden Heimensen converted 1-of-2 free throws to give the Defenders the lead for good, 55-54. A lay-up by Chmielewski was answered by a lay-up from Knights guard Ella Collier to make the score 57-56 with one minute left.
Following a timeout, Chmielewski scored another lay-up on a great backdoor play that put Dordt in front by three. The Defenders made a stop on the defensive end and Beckman and Heimensen converted 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Dordt shot 42% from the field, 31% (4/13) from beyond the arc, and held a slight 35-33 advantage on the boards. The Defenders completely shut down the reigning player of the year, Imani Guy, who finished the game with 0 points, one rebound and four turnovers.
Abby Downard led the Knights with 20 points and Kinnidy Garrard scored 12 to go with five rebounds.
The Defenders will play Valley City State (N.D.) in the final game of the Pizza Ranch Classic, hosted by Northwestern College, on Saturday, Nov.13. Tip-off at noon.