2014-15 Women's Basketball
Bluffton 81, Earlham 66
December 3, 2014
By: Josh Burkholder, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team received a balanced scoring effort with six players in double figures as the Beavers opened Heartland Conference play with an 81-66 victory over Earlham College on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Bluffton won its fifth straight game for the first time since 2011-12, improving to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the HCAC, while Earlham slipped to 2-3 on the season and 0-1 in the conference.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Rachel Beining (Ottoville) put Bluffton up 11-4 just over three minutes into the game, setting the stage for what would be a high-octane contest from start to finish. The Quakers roared back to take a short-lived 16-15 lead at the 14:24 mark before a Mikayla Coburn (McGuffey/Upper Scioto Valley) chip shot put Bluffton back on top.
Kaitlyn Pennekamp (Hamilton/Ross) dialed long distance and Kurilec got to the rack for an easy deuce as Bluffton went up 22-16 but Earlham kept the pedal to the metal, staying within striking distance despite 42 first half points for the home team. It took back-to-back fast break layups by Abby Jerger (Middletown/Madison) and Pennekamp in the final 1:26 of stanza one for the Beavers to take a 42-39 lead following the first 20 minutes.
An 11-2 spurt to open the second half, capped by a Coburn tip-in, helped Bluffton open a 53-41 lead at the 14;18 mark. A pair of Mariah Flynn freebies made it a five-point game with 8:31 to play before the Beavers got serious. Free throws by Taylor Knight (Perrysburg), Macey Sheerer (Bucyrus) and Pennekamp ignited a 12-0 Bluffton jag as Sheerer, Coburn and Pennekamp all contributed deuces, adding gasoline to the fire. Back-to-back Beining buckets followed by a Taylor Whitaker (Mansfield/Lexington) jumper capped the onslaught, sending Bluffton to an 81-66 victory in the Sommer Center.
Freshman Macey Sheerer led the Beavers with a career-high tying 16 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals while hitting 8-of-10 from the foul line. Her work early in the second half when Taylor Knight was saddled with three fouls proved to be the difference as the Beavers outscored Earlham 11-2 in the first six minutes of the period. Mikayla Coburn torched the Quakers down low with 12 points, which tied her career-high, on 6-of-8 shooting. Rachel Beining put up 13 points and 11 boards for her third double-double in the last four games, while Brenna Kurilec (Mt. Gilead/Gilead Christian) was equally impressive with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for her second career double-double. Kaitlyn Pennekamp and Taylor Whitaker rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Bluffton hit 29-of-66 from the field for 43.9 percent, compared to 26-of-67 (38.8 percent) for the visitors. The Beavers pulled down nine more rebounds (48-39) and turned the ball over just 14 times against Earlham's relentless pressure. The Quakers coughed it up 19 times as a team. Bluffton also made its mark at the line, hitting 22-of-27 (81.5 percent) while Earlham was just 9-for-15 (60 percent).
The Beavers will travel to Franklin College for early-season test against the Grizzlies on Saturday, Dec. 6. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. at Franklin.