2014-15 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 64, Hiram 59
December 30, 2014
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men wrapped up the McDonald’s Holiday Tournament in style as they brought the title home by defeating the Hiram College Terriers 64-59 on Tuesday, Dec. 30. The win came with a monster effort from tournament MVP Thayne Recker (Arlington), as he scored 23 points and ripped down a career-high 15 boards. Senior Ryan Ebbeskotte (Delphos/Jefferson) also made the All-Tournament team with his nine points and career-high four steals. The Beavers improved to 6-4 on the season while the Terriers dropped to 7-3. It marked Bluffton's ninth McDonald's championship in the past 11 seasons.
After a quick 5-0 Beaver start thanks to five straight tallies from Recker, the Terriers put together 15 of the next 20 to get out to a five-point advantage midway through the first stanza. Bluffton fired back with an 18-1 run as the Beavers held Hiram without a field goal for the last 9:33 of the half. The run included eight from Recker, who had 13 points and 10 boards at the break, as well as triples from both Ebbeskotte and Trey Elchert (Jackson Center) which gave the Beavers a 12-point halftime advantage at 28-16.
The Beavers maintained a double-digit spread early in the second half before the visitors went on a 9-2 spurt, making it a five-point game at the 10:34 mark. The teams traded buckets for much of the second stanza to keep the lead above five points. However, after the Beavers fouled Kyle Deckerd, he hit all three freebies and the lead was cut to just two points at 58-56 with three minutes remaining. The last three minutes would turn into a free throw shooting contest. The Beavers capitalized by hitting their final six from the charity stripe, with freshman Joshua Woodrich (Navarre/Central Christian) Recker and Billy Taflinger (Lima/Central Catholic) finishing the job to seal the victory after Ebbeskotte came up with a crucial steal, his career-best fourth, with 16 ticks remaining and Bluffton clinging to a three-point lead.
Bluffton’s win featured another stellar night from the line as the Beavers went 19-for-21 (90.5 percent) while the Terriers converted 21-for-29 (72.4 percent). Both teams struggled from the floor, but the Beavers were able to hit 40 percent (20-for-50) compared to just 34.7 percent (17-for-49) for the visitors. Bluffton shot 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from deep while Hiram was just 4-of-18 (22.2 percent). The Terriers held a slight 35-33 rebounding edge in the loss.
Bluffton was led by Recker’s 23-point, 15-rebound performance. He also handed out two dimes for the Beavers. It marked his 10th career double-double and 11th game of at least 20 points while being named to the McDonald's All-Tournament team for the second straight season. Ebbeskotte and Andrew Finley (Cincinnati/Walnut Hills) each added nine markers while Taflinger contributed with eight and led the team with three assists. Hiram had three in double figures, led by J.J. Woodson with 15 points off the bench. Kelvin Jones contributed 13 and Kyle Deckerd finished with 11.
The consolation game of the tournament was won easily by the Grove City College Wolverines as they defeated the OSU-Lima Barons 98-62. Grove City’s Mitch Marmelstein and OSU-Lima’s Larry Fuqua III were each named to the All-Tournament team.
The Beavers return to HCAC action on Saturday, Jan. 3, as the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology makes the trip to Bluffton, Ohio to take on the Beavers in the Sommer Center. Tip for the men’s game is set for 3 p.m. following the conclusion of the 1 p.m. women’s contest. Come support your Beavers!