2015-16 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 83, Franklin 79
January 23, 2016
By: Josh Burkholder, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men’s basketball team played host to the Franklin College Grizzlies on Saturday, Jan. 23, in an HCAC contest. The Beavers came into the game looking to end their five-game slide, and managed to do so by holding off a pesky Grizzly squad by a score of 83-79. Bluffton improved to 9-8 (4-6 HCAC) while Franklin fell to 1-16 (1-9 HCAC) on the season.
The game was back-and-forth for the first 10 minutes, with each team scoring 18 apiece, and neither holding an advantage greater than three points. Bluffton would then turn on the jets, starting with a triple from TREY ELCHERT (Jackson Center) followed by a steal and layup combo from freshman JARED WENTLING (Carey). The Beavers went on a 21-4 run to close the half, with help from five team steals and six AUSTIN ROHDE (Shelby) points. At the break Bluffton led by a score of 39-22, outscoring Franklin in the paint by a 26-2 margin and creating 14 points off of turnovers compared to none for Franklin.
Bluffton carried its first half momentum over the break and pushed the lead to 25 by the 11:28 mark. During that stretch, senior star THAYNE RECKER (Arlington) pounded the paint with six points on a pair of hard-fought buckets and two free throws. Wentling added to the scoring onslaught with two layups, a jumper, and an emphatic one-handed slam while being fouled. The Beavers and the Grizzlies then traded baskets over the next four minutes, when Bluffton took a 70-49 lead on a pair of free throws from BILLY TAFLINGER (Lima/Central Catholic) with 7:44 left to play.
The Beavers were on the verge of ending it, but the Grizzlies thought otherwise, storming back with 13 unanswered points as part of a 21-5 run that cut the Bluffton lead to five with 2:50 left in the contest. Although Franklin was able to make it a three-point game with 33 seconds to play, Bluffton’s free throw shooting down the stretch proved to be the deciding factor, as the home team converted 13 times over the final five minutes. The Beavers held on for an 83-79 win, snapping their five-game losing streak.
Recker was the leading scorer with 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 13-of-19 from the charity stripe, and he finished two rebounds shy of a double-double. Wentling had a fantastic game, shooting 70 percent (7-of-10) from the field, while finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Rohde chipped in with 18 points, while Taflinger added six assists.
As a team, Bluffton shot just over 50 percent (27-of-53) compared to Franklin's 47.5 percent (29-61). Both teams struggled from behind the arc, shooting under 30 percent. The difference was from the free throw line, where Bluffton cashed in nearly twice as many (26-of-37) as Franklin (16-for-19). The rebounding margin was very close, with the Beavers grabbing 33 and the Grizzlies 30. Nearly half of Franklin’s boards came on the offensive end, leading to 17 second chance points, nine more than Bluffton in the category. Along with the free throws, points off turnovers was another large factor in the outcome as the Beavers won that battle, 26-15.
Bluffton’s next contest will be another HCAC tilt on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. down in Cincinnati against Mount St. Joseph. They will return home to the Sommer Center on Feb. 3 for a 7:30 p.m. meeting with Manchester.