Bluffton 59, Manchester 45
Beavers open HCAC play with 59-45 win over Manchester
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
December 3, 2008
BLUFFTON,Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team was victorious in its 2008-09 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener against Manchester College, 59-45, on Wednesday, December 3, in Founders Hall. The Beavers improved to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the HCAC, while the Spartans fell to 0-1 in the conference and 4-3 on the season.
Senior sharpshooter Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) ignited the Beavers' offense with a jumper and a trey in the first two minutes of action. A drive and score by Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) made it 7-0 and forced a quick timeout by the Spartans. At the 13:02 mark Cunningham added another deuce for the Beavers, pushing the lead back to four points at 9-5.
Three minutes later, senior post Nick Wilson (Continental) drained one from behind the arc and then Rufenacht converted a layup. Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) and Cunningham drilled three-pointers to increase the Beaver lead to 12 points with six minutes to play in the half. A drive by Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) following an assist from freshman guard Nick Lee (Vanlue) added two points to the Bluffton side of the scoreboard. An Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) jumper and two more points from Rufenacht made the halftime score 30-12 in Bluffton's favor.
The Spartans opened the second stanza with an 8-0 run before Cunningham responded with a deep triple. A Farley layup and another trey from Cunningham upped the Bluffton lead to 13 points. Eichar found freshman Clayton Leimeister (Lima/Temple Christian) for two and a Jordan Pothast (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf) dime that hit Josiah Stober (Spencerville) in stride on his way to the glass made the score 42-29 with 8:16 to play in the game.
At the 6:40 mark, Stober got to the rack again for the Beavers. An Aaron Taylor bucket increased the lead to 48-35 with just over four minutes to play. Over the final two minutes of the contest, the Beavers hit 11-of-12 from the charity stripe as they secured their first HCAC victory of the season against Manchester, 59-45.
Colt Cunningham led the Beavers with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, including 4-of-9 from distance. Aaron Taylor chipped in with eight points, five boards, three assists and a steal. Nick Lee dished out three assists in the victory. Seniors Justin Rufenacht and Josiah Stober pulled down five boards each. Brent Farley paced Bluffton with six rebounds and he swatted away one Spartan shot, while teammates Nick Wilson and Jordan Pothast each had one block.
Nathan Ferch paced the Spartans with 14 points, five rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal. Tyler Henn chipped in with seven points and three assists. Jordan Moss pulled down four boards and Tyler Delauder came up with three steals in the contest.
Bluffton hit 19-of-51 (37.3 percent) from the field, while Manchester went 18-of-46 (39.1 percent). The Beavers knocked down 15-of-21 (71.4 percent) from the free-throw line, compared to only 6-of-10 (60 percent) freebies for the Spartans. Bluffton dominated on the glass to the tune of a 42-23 rebounding advantage, including a decided 17-4 edge on the offensive end.
The Bluffton men return to action on Saturday, December 6, when the Beavers travel to HCAC rival Rose-Hulman to face the Engineers. Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m.