The two titans of Centennial Conference women's basketball collided again last night and this time Johns Hopkins evened the score with McDaniel.
In a game between nationally ranked Division III teams, No. 12 Johns Hopkins used its gritty defense and better free-throw shooting to stave off a late charge by the No. 20 Green Terror, 59-52, before 703 at Goldfarb Gymnasium.
The outcome avenged a 76-60 McDaniel victory in Westminster on Jan. 22 when "we just didn't have it," according to Hopkins coach Nancy Funk.
"They're a great team and we knew that," said Blue Jays reserve forward Julie Miller, who amassed 15 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and two key blocks in the closing minutes. "We were a little ticked off that they kicked us around the first time. We thrive on these kinds of games."
Hopkins (17-2, 12-1) extended its overall home winning streak to 17 in a row and its string against conference opponents to 18 straight by holding McDaniel to 34.5 percent shooting from the field, far below its 46.4 average that ranks fifth in the nation.
"Our defense made the biggest difference [late]," said Funk, who coached the Blue Jays to last season's Centennial title. "We weren't shooting well and we were making terrible decisions. We weren't even getting in our sets. But our pressure and coming up with some big rebounds were keys."
Suffering its first loss in 14 games, McDaniel (18-3, 14-1) was totally out of rhythm at the onset of the second half, going 1-for-8 and committing three turnovers while the Blue Jays went on an 11-0 surge to shoot in front 43-29.
Then it was Hopkins' turn to go sour and the Green Terror rallied within 48-47 with 2:43 remaining in the game.
Blue Jays guard Maureen Myers (13 points) then made the biggest basket of the game, almost as an afterthought. After finding no teammate open, she called her own number and drilled a jump shot that restored order for the Blue Jays.
"It was one of those things," said Myers, who then also made four free throws that virtually put the game out of reach. "It was the last option and it was open."
Miller, who played much of the second half with four fouls, went 26 minutes after the starting forwards got into early foul trouble.
"It was good to lend a hand to my team instead of just coming in to give a starter a rest," she said.
The Green Terror missed 11 of 21 free throws and lost leading scorer Kristy Costa (15 points) on fouls with 1:39 to play.
Hopkins is now 21-2 since the start of the 2002-03 Centennial season, with both defeats to McDaniel.
"We know we'll see them again [in the league tournament]," Funk said. "They're a good team that plays all-out."