After hanging with Emporia early in Tuesday’s game, Manhattan High girls’ basketball watched it slip away, as the Spartans’ hard-nosed defense clamped down.

The Indians’ best scorers had to fight for every point, it making for tough sledding for the offense in a 55-28 home loss.

Manhattan (2-4) trailed by just 12 points at the half, but an 11-4 run to start the third quarter gave Emporia an insurmountable lead.

“We had trouble scoring,” MHS head coach Scott Mall said. “We turned the ball over. We missed free throws. We missed some layups. We could have put a little bit more pressure on (Emporia) by scoring in the second quarter. Maybe it would have made a difference.”

Emporia (4-2) brought full-court pressure.

Manhattan couldn’t overcome it.

“(Emporia) always plays good defense,” Mall said. “They are tough. They play aggressive on and off the ball. It is the way they play, (and) it is the way their coach played back when she was playing for Emporia. It puts a lot of pressure on you. You have to keep working. We did OK at times, but we just had too many turnovers.”

Emporia’s Grace Giplin came out strong in the third quarter and knocked down multiple 3s to get the offense on track.

“(Grace) is tough,” Mall said. “We knew that. She was the focus of (the scouting report) going in. I thought for the most part, our girls did a good job on her. They did a good job in the first half of keeping her away from the ball. But then we lost her a couple of times there in the third quarter, and she is going to score when you lose her. She has a quick shot, and she knows what shots she wants. And she made some plays.”

One key factor that adversely affected Manhattan: Grace Dixon had just four points. Emporia’s defense had the right matchup to shut down Dixon, and it worked.

Junior Avery Larson led Manhattan in scoring on the night with 15 points, including a 3-pointer.

Mall was pleased the Indians continued to fight to the bitter end, despite trailing by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter.

“It would have been really easy for us, considering the way the game was going, and the situation (missing players), for us to get down,” Mall said. “The girls stayed in it and stayed focus. They worked hard all the time.”

Mall said it is too early in the season to panic and the girls need to “keep getting better,” he said.

“We are turning the ball over too much,” Mall said. “We need to bring this kind of intensity every game we play.”

The Manhattan girls travel to Highland Park (1-5) on Friday.