NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Sophomore guard Jessica Lairson scored a game-high tying 18 points as Baldwin-Wallace defeated Denison 54-53 Friday in the first game of the Manchester (Ind.) College MC Bankers Classic.

In addition to Lairson, sophomore forward Natalia Simovic scored a career-high tying eight points and grabbed a career-best six rebounds. Junior wing Jessica Carpenter also added eight points and senior forward Catherine Spisak contributed seven. The Big Red was led by Jane Windler with a game-high tying 18 points.

Denison opened the scoring when Windler connected on a layup at the 19:11 mark of the first half. B-W knotted the game back up (2-2) when Lairson scored on a layup at the 18:38 mark.

The score would remain tied until Carpenter gave the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the game (3-2) as she split a pair of free throws with 17:39 remaining in the opening period.

The Big Red would then go on a 4-0 run to take a three-point advantage (6-3) at the 16:26 mark on a layup by Windler. B-W would then use a 3-0 run of their own to tie the game back up (6-6) on the second free throw by sophomore forward Lexi Rohrbach at 15:30.

The game would be tied four more times in the opening period with the last coming (14-14) at the 8:25 mark as neither team would go up by more than two points. Denison would close the half by outscoring the Yellow Jackets 15-11 to lead 29-25 at the intermission. 

B-W opened the second half on a 7-0 run to regain the lead (32-29) at 17:45 on a 3-pointer by Lairson and layups by Spisak and junior guard Rachel Rossman.

The Big Red would regain the lead (35-34) on a layup Windler at the 15:48 mark. The Yellow Jackets would tie the game for the seventh time when Simovic split a pair of free throws at 14:55.

B-W then would go on a 6-0 run over the next 2:34 sparked by three points each from Lairson and Simovic to take a 41-35 lead with 12:21 remaining in the second half. Denison would use a 8-3 run to cut the lead down to just one point (44-43) on a 3-pointer by Serafina Nuzzo at the 8:37 mark.

After a time out, the Yellow Jackets would then go on another 6-1 run over the next five minutes to take a six point advantage with 3:37 left in the game. The Big Red would respond with a 7-2 run to cut the lead down to one point (52-51) on a jumper by Alyx Ingram at the 2:32 mark.

The two teams would exchange a pair of free throws by B-W junior forward Nancy Coulter and Denison’s Nuzzo to give the Yellow Jackets a 54-53 advantage with 44 second left in the game

After a B-W turnover with 17 seconds remaining, the Big Red had one more chance to win the game but Nicole Coggins would miss a layup with two seconds to play and Rossman would corral the rebound to end the game.