2014-15 Men's Basketball
Defiance 78, Bluffton 55
March 1, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
DEFIANCE, Ohio - The Defiance College Yellow Jackets defended their home floor, hitting 13 triples en route to a 78-55 victory over the Bluffton men in the championship game of the HCAC Basketball Tournament on Sunday, Mar. 1. Bluffton’s season came to an end at 16-12 while the Yellow Jackets enter the NCAA Division III Tournament with a mark of 22-6 overall.
The Beavers jumped out to a quick start with back-to-back triples from Austin Rohde (Shelby) and Andrew Finley (Cincinnati/Walnut Hills) for an early 6-2 lead. But that run was quickly halted as the Yellow Jackets scored 12 straight markers for an eight-point advantage. The Beavers fought the lead back to two with five straight points from Thayne Recker (Arlington) and a Billy Taflinger (Lima/Central Catholic) three at the 13:35 mark of the opening stanza. The Defiance lead was three when they went on another 8-0 jag, pushing it back into double figures. Bluffton managed to pull within five before a 16-3 run to end the half propelled Defiance to a commanding 45-27 advantage.
The Yellow Jackets came out firing in the second stanza to put the Beavers away, hitting seven treys in the second half alone, and scoring every time Bluffton was on the verge of getting the momentum back. With the Yellow Jackets leading by 20, Recker's layin cut it to 18, but Defiance’s Michael Parker nailed back-to-back threes for a 24-point spread. Bluffton used a Recker freebie and a trey from Ryan Ebbeskotte (Delphos/Jefferson) to cut it to 19 one last time before the Jackets hit two more threes to get it back to 25 and it was all over but the final score at that point.
Defiance took advantage of its home floor, shooting 50 percent (13-of-26) from deep, as well as 56.4 percent (31-of-55) from the floor. That was compared to Bluffton’s 39.6 percent (21-of-53) from the floor and just 25 percent (4-of-16) from deep. The Yellow Jackets also grabbed six more boards (33-27) . Another key stat was Defiance’s seven blocks, with many of them coming at Recker's expense to ensure there would be no repeat performance of his January night in the Sommer Center when he blitzed the rival Jackets with what was a then career-high 34 points.
Thayne Recker still led the Beavers as the only double-digit scorer with 22 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Austin Rohde added nine points and four boards, while Billy Taflinger finished with nine and four off the bench. Defiance was led by the HCAC Tournament MVP Bernard Edwards, who scored 25 points and grabbed nine boards with six assists in the win. Drew Frizell and Michael Parker each drilled four triples for 12 apiece. Wade Wooley finished with 10 points, eight boards and three blocks for the Yellow Jackets.
Bluffton placed two on the HCAC All-Tournament team, with Thayne Recker and Billy Taflinger earning those honors. Recker finished with 79 points and 30 rebounds in the three games, including double-doubles in their victories over Anderson and Mount St Joseph. He played 121 minutes for the Beavers, coming out for just the final four minutes of the championship game once the outcome was decided. Billy Taflinger scored 59 over the weekend, including 28 in the first-round victory over Anderson. The Beavers and Coach Neal have much to be proud of following a 2014-15 campaign that saw Bluffton win 8 of its last 10 games and advance to HCAC tourney finals for the first time in school history!