Spartans defeat Beavers 65-64 in 2005-06 regular season finale
February 18, 2006
By Molly Burnell, sports information assistant
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. -The Bluffton University men's basketball team fell to the Manchester College Spartans on Saturday February 18, 2006 in the final regular season contest for both teams. The loss brings the Beavers to 17-8 and 6-8 in the HCAC while the Spartans move to 9-16 and 6-8 in the conference. Bluffton and Manchester will both now enter the first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament on Tuesday February 21, 2006 at sites TBA.
Freshman Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) started the Beavers off as he scored the first three buckets for Bluffton and opened a two point lead (6-4) five minutes into the contest. A quick lay up by the Spartans David Mattingly tied the game at six all before two Scott Bergman (Elmore/Woodmore) free throws put the Beavers back on top by two points, 8-6. Charity Stripe baskets by both Wes Gardner and Kevin Kuhn knotted the game at 8 at the 14:16 mark. Defense proved to be the key over the next few minutes as neither team led by more than three points and the game was tied three times before a Kyle Plumlee triple put Manchester ahead by three 23-20 with under seven minutes to play. Kuhn nailed a jumper and extended the Spartan lead to four points. Senior Eric Sweet (Ottawa/Ottawa Glandorf) fought through the defense and scored a basket to cut the Manchester advantage to two points. Bergman drained a long distance three pointer to give Bluffton a one point lead before Kuhn responded with a trey of his own to put the Spartans up by two points. Neither team scored in the remaining two minutes as Manchester took a two point advantage into half time, 28-26.
The Spartans took control of the game early in second half and opened a nine point lead as Rufenacht put Bluffton on the board with a lay up and cut the Manchester lead to seven (33-26). Eric Berger responded with a jumper and cushioned the Spartan advantage to nine points, 37-28. Junior Eric Schweiterman (St. Henry/St. Henry) took the Sweet offensive board and turned it into a three pointer putting Bluffton within six points of Manchester at the 17:02 mark. Plumlee answered with a trey of this own before the Beavers started the comeback. Rufenacht connected on a jumper and Bergman nailed back-to-back three pointers to bring Bluffton within one point at the 13:19 mark. Both teams battled hard, connecting on baskets when the defense would allow as the game stayed within five points until the eight minute mark. Mattingly laid a bucket in to put the Spartans up by seven points with 5:30 to play. A Manchester foul sent Rufenacht to the line and he was able to connect on his freebie to spark the second Beavers comeback. Bergman and Junior David Patch (Minster/Minster) each drained two free throws to cut the Spartan lead to four points. Bergman found the hoop for an old fashion three point play before Kuhn responded with one of this own putting Manchester up by four points with 2:31 remaining. Bergman scored five points in the next two minutes to put the Beavers ahead by one 64-63, a Bluffton foul sent Plumlee to the line with ten seconds to go. Plumlee drained both freebies as Manchester took the contest 65-64.
Bergman led all scores with 21 points; the senior also grabbed five rebounds and tallied two assists in the contest. Rufenacht managed 12 points and totaled three boards. Sweet rounded out double digit scoring for the Beavers with ten points, he also pulled down a team high nine rebounds and three assists. Schwieterman added three assists in the loss.