2017-18 Men's Basketball
Hanover 88, Bluffton 78
February 20, 2018
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
HANOVER, Ind. - The Bluffton University men’s basketball squad hit the court at Hanover College to face off against the Panthers in the opening round of the HCAC Tournament. Competing in their first HCAC Tournament since the 2014-15 season, the Beavers were unable to stop the offensive power of Hanover as the Panthers ended Bluffton's season (88-78). The visitors finished with a final record of 11-15 (8-10 HCAC), while Hanover improved to 20-6 as the Panthers advanced to play Mount St. Joseph at Rose-Hulman on Friday afternoon.
The home team went on an 8-2 spurt to take a 16-10 lead with 15:42 left in the opening half. The Beavers cut the Panther lead to one following an ISAIAH TAYLOR (Yellow Springs) layup that made it 26-25 with under 10 minutes to play in the first stanza. Hanover made it a 40-32 ballgame after CAM FAILS scored back-to-back buckets for the home team. Unable to close the gap, an old-fashioned three-point play by JUSTIS DOWDY (Van Wert/Lincolnview) put the score at 50-41 with 30 seconds left in the half. However, Cam Fails knocked down a jumper for the Panthers to give Hanover a 52-41 lead at the break.
The Panthers opened up the second half with four quick points before the Beavers answered with a trifecta from KEVIN CHRISTIE (Dayton/Bishop Fenwick) that made it 56-44. Hanover caught fire, scoring 11 consecutive points in just over three minutes for a 67-44 lead at the 16;13 mark. The Beavers were able to cut their deficit under 20 after a three-point play by Justis Dowdy and an ANDREW RENNER (Cairo/Bath) put-back. Trailing 88-68 with 3:43 left in regulation, Bluffton held Hanover scoreless for the rest of the contest and finished the game on a 10-0 run that included threes by Kevin Christie and Justis Dowdy. The final jag wasn’t enough as Hanover advanced to the next round of the tournament with an 88-78 victory.
Justis Dowdy led the charge as the junior dropped a career-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Playing in his last game as a Beaver, Kevin Christie did everything he could as the senior scored 23 points while going 3-of-4 from deep and 4-of-4 at the charity stripe. Christie ended the season #4 in the HCAC with 17.7 PPG. Isaiah Taylor added 14 and Andrew Renner dished out four assists.
The Panthers were knocking down shots left and right as they were a ridiculous 36-of-57 (63.2 percent) from the floor while Bluffton hit 30-of-64 (46.9 percent) for the game. The Beavers were a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line and won the rebounding battle, 29-27. Hanover finished with a slight edge in the paint (40-38) but Bluffton netted more second chance points (18-9), bench points (40-6) and points off turnovers (14-8).
Bluffton saw its season come to an end following a tough battle at Hanover, one of three teams to share the HCAC regular season title with a 14-4 mark. The Heartland Conference post season awards will be handed out on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Check the Bluffton Athletics website and Twitter for announcements and updated records next week.