2014-15 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 64, Mount St. Joseph 52
February 28, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team scored 17 of the game's final 19 points to cap off a stunning 64-52 victory over #2 seed Mount St. Joseph on Saturday, Feb. 28. Bluffton's fifth straight victory and its eighth win in the last nine games has the Beavers in the Heartland Conference championship game for the first time in school history. Bluffton moved to 16-11 on the season, while MSJ saw its season come to a close with a 19-7 mark. The Lions shared the HCAC regular season title with tournament host and #1 seed Defiance College.
Bluffton came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the first seven markers of the contest, and 11 of the opening 13. But with the lead at 16-8 heading into the second media timeout, MSJ rattled off 11 of the next 15, whittling the Bluffton lead down to just a single point, 20-19, with 8:39 left in the opening half. However, a big triple from Billy Taflinger (Lima/Central Catholic) pushed Bluffton’s spread back to four. The lead hovered between two and four until a deuce from Mount tied it with 42 ticks left before Taflinger answered back with a jumper to close the stanza up by two.
The back and forth action continued early in the second half with Bluffton maintaining its slim advantage. But with Bluffton leading by four, Mount put together six straight markers to secure their first lead of the game at 42-40 with 11:46 left. But with the Lions leading 50-47 with 6:11 to go, the Beavers responded with four straight freebies from Thayne Recker (Arlington)and Taflinger to reclaim the lead. Then Recker converted back-to-back deuces before Austin Rohde’s (Shelby) breakaway slam was the exclamation point for the 57-50 lead. Three more freebies capped the 13-0 jag which sealed the victory and propelled the Beavers into the HCAC championship game.
Bluffton outrebounded the Lions, 35-26, including grabbing 10 on the offensive glass in the win. The Beavers shot 22-of-51 (43.1 percent) from the floor, and just 3-of-11 from deep (27.3 percent). Bluffton was solid at the line in the semifinal, shooting 77.3 percent (17-of-22). The Lions hit just 1-of-15 from deep (6.7 percent) in the losing effort, and 21-of-50 (42 percent) overall from the floor. MSJ also committed three more turnovers (11-8) than Bluffton in the loss. It marked the second straight contest that the Beavers finished with less than 10 turnovers after committing just 6 miscues in 45 minutes of action against Anderson on Friday night.
Big man Thayne Recker had a typical Thayne Recker night, scoring 27 points while adding 10 rebounds in the win. He also stuffed the stat sheet with two assists, two steals, and two blocks while fashioning his 19th career double-double. Recker has been an iron man for the Beavers, playing all 85 minutes in a span of 27 hours as Bluffton took down Anderson and MSJ. Billy Taflinger had his second straight monster game off the bench, scoring 22 on 7-of-9 shooting and a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. He also dished out four dimes. Austin Rohde chipped in eight points and five boards for the Beavers.
Bluffton returns to action on Sunday, Mar. 1, as the Beavers head to the Weaner Center on the campus of Defiance College for the HCAC Championship game to take on the host Yellow Jackets. Tip time is set for 2 p.m. with a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament on the line as Coach Neal matches wits with his protégé and current Defiance Head Coach Tom Heil. Come support your Beavers!