Bluffton 74, Defiance 63
By Molly Burnell, sports information assistant
February 15, 2006
BLUFFTON, Ohio. - The Bluffton University women's basketball team (4-20, 2-11 HCAC) defeated the Defiance College Yellow Jackets 74-63 in Founders Hall on Wednesday, February 15, 2006. The victory marks the second Heartland Conference win for the Beavers in three games. The Bluffton-Defiance rivalry dates back to the 1968-69 season. Defiance has won 60 of the 66 contests between the two schools and the last time that the Beavers were victorious was on February 14, 1995 when Bluffton won the contest by a score of 86-72. The victory snaps a 22-game losing streak for the Beavers versus the Jackets and improves Bluffton's record to 4-20 and 2-11 HCAC. With the win, the Beavers have equaled the number of victories of the 2004-05 squad who finished the season 4-22 and 1-13 in the conference.
Defiance came out with strong defense as they held the Beavers scoreless until an Angie Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue) layup put Bluffton on the board three minutes into the contest. Senior Karin Schaller (Jenera/Arlington) found the hoop a few minutes later to give the Beavers their first lead of the game 4-3 at the 15:53 mark. The Yellow Jackets' Sarah Bird managed an old fashioned three-point play to put the visitors on top by two points (6-4). Two more Defiance buckets helped the Yellow Jackets extend their lead to five points before Lee went on a scoring spree and rattled off four points to pull the Beavers to within one point. A basket by freshman Sarah Bruner (Wauseon/Pettisville) and another hoop by Lee propelled Bluffton to their second advantage of the game, 15-13, midway through the period. Defiance turned up the offense and stepped up their defensive effort as they held the Beavers scoreless over the next five minutes while the Yellow Jackets dropped in 12 unanswered points to take a nine-point lead (24-15). Two freebies from Lee kept the game close before a Kara Jones triple put Defiance up by 10 points. Bruner and junior Tanya Rickenberg (Paulding/Paulding) combined for eight points, but a free throw by Stephanie Lieto and a trey by Bird gave the Jackets a six-point halftime advantage (33-27).
Bluffton started out the second half on fire as it connected on four of its first six shots. The tight Beavers' defense limited Defiance to two points as a Lee layup tied the contest at 35 with 16:17 to play. Bluffton continued to dominate on the offensive end as three Schaller buckets in a row put the Beavers on top by six points five minutes into the period. The Beavers converted on Yellow Jacket turnovers and missed shots as they took a commanding nine-point lead at the 12:45 mark. Melissa Headley drained a triple and Bird connected on a layup to cut the margin to four points. Lee continued to give the crowd a scoring show as she drained a trifecta and nailed two free throws to put the Beavers back on top by nine points. Ashleigh Stallkamp (Paulding/Paulding) recorded her first points of the night as she took her own steal to the hoop and gave Bluffton its largest lead of the night, 55-44. Defiance struggled for the remainder of game and the Beavers were unstoppable as Bluffton led by as many as 19 points. The Beavers continued to roll as they took the contest 74-63.
Lee paced Bluffton with 26 points; the sophomore also pulled down four boards and handed out three assists. Rickenberg added 12 points and recorded two steals in the win. Schaller dropped in ten points, grabbed six rebounds and swatted away four shots. Bruner rounded out the double-digit scoring for Bluffton as she finished with ten points and pulled down a team-high seven boards. Stallkamp, who saw limited action due to foul trouble, dished out a game-high seven assists and grabbed two steals in the victory. Sophomore Lindsay Bush (Howard/East Knox) pulled down six boards for the Beavers.
Bluffton finishes regular season action on Saturday, February 18, 2006 when it hosts HCAC rival Manchester College in Founders Hall. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.