Bluffton 84, Muskingum 81
Bluffton takes down Muskingum 84-81 for fourth straight win
By: Evan Miller, sports information assistant
December 30, 2008
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women came back from a second half deficit and beat Muskingum 84-81 on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. The Beavers were able to end the 2008 calender year on a positive note, as they had not beaten Muskingum since 2000. With the win Bluffton improved to 9-3 overall, while Muskingum fell to 7-3.
The Beavers made it into the scoring column with a jumper by junior Ginny Buckingham (Bluffton/Bluffton), tying the game at two. After the opening basket, the Bluffton offense struggled over the next four minutes as Muskingum went on an 8-2 run which was capped with a layup by Jessica McKenzie. McKenzie led all scorers with 29 points.
Facing a six-point deficit the Beavers bounced back, cutting the deficit to 15-10 with a layup by freshman post player Emily Shellabarger (St. Mary's/Memorial) who topped the Beavers with 28 markers.
Ginny Buckingham grabbed the rebound following a missed free throw by the Muskies. She took a nice feed from Alicia Amis (Woodstock/Mechanicsburg), making the score 15-12 in favor of Muskingum. At the 6:37 mark, the Beavers cut the Muskingum lead to one point, 19-18, with an Amis drive and score.
Within a matter of a few minutes, Muskingum established an eight point lead, 28-20, on a Mallory Moore three-ball. Bluffton once again came charging back thanks to a pair of free throws from guard Becky Ruble (Grover Hill/Wayne Trace), making the score 32-29 with just over a minute in the half.
The Beavers were able to tie the game as the buzzer sounded when Ginny Buckingham got free under the hoop, making the score 32-32 at the half.
The Muskies came out in the second half and regained the lead on their first possession with an Amanda Dobbins layup. Kim Miller (Delphos/St. John's) knotted the game with a chip shot in the paint.
The Beavers and Muskies continued to trade baskets for several possessions before Bluffton grabbed its first lead of the contest with two Emily Shellabarger freebies, making the score 40-39.
Minutes later, Beth Yoder (Marshallville/Smithville) hit a three-pointer to give Bluffton a two-point advantage with 12:39 remaining. The Bluffton lead was extended to five with a Becky Ruble triple which made the score 51-46.
Muskingum forced the game's eighth tie with a pair of McKenzie foul shots at the 10:58 mark. McKenzie went on a scoring binge, putting in 10 straight points and giving the visitors a six-point cushion with 8:44 left.
The Beavers refused to quit and they went ahead of the visitors on the strength of nine consecutive points by Ginny Buckingham. With 2:38 left Bluffton went up 72-69 on a layup by Shellabarger from Kim Miller. The Beavers opened their largest lead of seven on two free throws from Vicki Auer (Cincinnati/Roger Bacon) which made the score 80-73 with just over thirty seconds left in the game.
Bluffton capped the victory by going 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the last 35 seconds, as Muskingum applied pressure to try and get the ball back.
Bluffton's Buckingham and Shellabarger both had career days in several categories. Buckingham established a new career-high with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting. With her 12 boards, she put together her 7th career double-double. Shellabarger dominated the paint in the second half, torching the Muskingum defense to the tune of a career-high 28 points. She also pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots for her fourth double-double of the season. Kim Miller led Bluffton with five assists and three steals.
Bluffton shot 47.5 percent from the field, while doing a good job of holding Muskingum to just 38.0 percent. The Beavers were also able to out rebound the Muskies, 42-39. McKenzie and Tiffany Youel paced Muskingum with 29 and 25 points, respectively.
Bluffton will try to extend its winning streak to five when the Beavers host HCAC foe Transylvania on Tuesday, Jan. 6. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m.