2014-15 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 87, Transylvania 76 (OT)
February 21, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Bluffton University men’s basketball team earned its way into the HCAC tournament the hard way by defeating Transylvania, 87-76, in overtime on Saturday, Feb. 21 in a virtual play-in game. Transylvania needed a deuce from Tommy Sirkin with 4.2 seconds left to send the contest to overtime, but three straight triples, one from Austin Rohde (Shelby) and two from freshman Andrew Finley (Cincinnati/Walnut Hills) sealed the deal in the overtime period. The Beavers finish the regular season 14-11 and 10-8 in the HCAC. The Pioneers wrap up their season 12-13 and 9-9 in conference play. The win also delivered Bluffton Head Coach Guy Neal his 300th career victory in dramatic fashion.
Bluffton led for the entirety of the opening stanza, which started with an 8-2 run for the Beavers with Rohde scoring all eight for the visitors. The Pioneers pulled within two points a couple of times in the half, but Bluffton rattled off nine straight to get it back to double digits (22-11) at the 5:09 mark before Transy trimmed it to eight at the break.
The second half started with a bucket from Joshua Woodrich (Navarre/Central Christian), pushing the lead back to double figures, but Transylvania countered with 12 of the next 14 markers to knot the game with 16:21 on the clock. Bluffton responded with eight straight on a deuce from Woodrich and back-to-back triples from Finley and freshman Austin Moore (Maumee/St. John's Jesuit).
At the 3:05 mark, Bluffton still held a 59-51 lead when the Pioneers scored eight straight to tie it at 59 with 43 seconds to play. A hoop and harm from Thayne Recker (Arlington) made it a three-point game with 42 ticks remaining. A layup got the Pioneers within one before two freebies from Billy Taflinger (Lima/Central Catholic) made it 64-61. Transy would return to make two before Recker split a pair of free throws to make it two points with 17 seconds left. Sirkin freed himself under the bucket with 4.3 on the clock and Finley’s missed triple sent it to overtime.
The teams went back-and-forth early in the overtime period, but with Transy leading by a point with 2:32 remaining, Rohde drained a triple to put Bluffton up by two. Finley exploded with back-to-back trifectas for an eight-point advantage with 1:07 left. Bluffton then did what it has done all season and that was seal the game from the free throw line, knocking down 13-of-14 in the overtime period!
The Beavers dominated the rebounding battle, 45-27, in one of the key stats to Bluffton’s victory, including pulling 13 off the offensive glass. Bluffton also shot well once again, including 26-of-29 (89.7 percent) from the charity stripe. The visitors drilled 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) from deep and 26-of-61 (42.6 percent) from the floor. Transylvania shot 30-of-66 (45.5 percent) from the floor and 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) on triples in the loss. Bluffton committed two more turnovers (13-11) than Transylvania.
Bluffton was led by another outstanding effort from Thayne Recker, who scored 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 12-of-13 from the line. He also finished with 11 boards and two assists for his 17th career double-double. Andrew Finley added 17 points, including three big triples, two in OT, and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Austin Rohde tallied 16 points with three triples, while Joshua Woodrich had his second career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Transy was led by Parker Stansberry and his 23 points.
The Beavers now advance to the HCAC Tournament, where they are the 6th seed and will take on the 3rd-seeded Anderson University Ravens. The game will be played at either Mount St Joseph or Defiance at 6 PM on Friday, Feb. 27, depending on the results from Sunday’s games. Congratulations to the Beavers for their first HCAC tourney appearance since the 2011-12 campaign and to Coach Neal for career victory 300!