2015-16 Women's Basketball
#23 Bluffton 59, Manchester 41
February 3, 2016
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Bluffton University women’s basketball team resumed their winning ways with a hard-fought 59-41 road victory over the Manchester University Spartans on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The win was Bluffton's 19th of the season, giving this year’s team the most victories in school history, one season after the 2014-15 squad went 18-9. Bluffton also remains atop the HCAC with a 12-1 mark in the conference and 19-1 overall. Manchester fell to 4-9 in HCAC play and 6-13 overall.
The offenses were not clicking to open the contest, with Manchester holding a 4-0 lead over three minutes in. Back-to-back layups by Rachel Beining (Ottoville) and Macey Sheerer (Bucyrus), followed by buckets from Taylor Knight (Perrysburg) and Abigail O’Donnell (Arcanum) gave the Beavers an 8-4 lead at the 4:20 mark. After a couple of Spartan freebies, Taylor Whitaker (Mansfield/Lexington) knocked down a jumper to spark a 6-1 end of the quarter run, giving the Beavers a 14-7 edge after one period.
The Beavers bumped the lead to nine with a quick bucket by Kaycee Rowe (Harrod/Allen East). Bluffton then went scoreless for six minutes, but Manchester only mustered five in that stretch which allowed the Beavers to maintain a 16-12 advantage. It would remain a four-point game until Rowe and Belicia Cooper (Painesville/Riverside) hit back-to-back triples to push the lead to double digits. O’Donnell added a free throw and Beining would hit a jumper late in the stanza to finish the 9-0 run and give Bluffton a 27-14 halftime lead.
The lead teetered between 10 and 13 points in the opening four minutes of the third before a quick five-point swing from the Spartans chipped it back to a seven-point game. But back-to-back buckets from Sheerer made the score 36-25. The lead would still be at 10 counters (38-28) before the Beavers rattled off six straight in the final minute of the period on an O'Donnell jumper and four straight makes at the charity stripe from Kaitlyn Pennekamp (Hamilton/Ross) and Whitaker gave Bluffton a 44-28 advantage.
Pennekamp hit a triple to open the fourth quarter, pushing the spread to 19 points. The lead ballooned as high as 23 in the final minutes of the fourth as the Beavers cruised through the period to earn the 59-41 victory.
The visitors finished with another off shooting night, going just 21-of-60 (35 percent) from the floor and 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) from three. Manchester was unable to take advantage, however, going 14-of-52 (26.9 percent) on the contest. The Spartans were also doomed with 21 turnovers, while the Beavers finished with just 10 miscues. Manchester was able to outrebound Bluffton, 42-38, in the loss.
The Beavers finished with just one scorer in double figures, as Kaitlyn Pennekamp came off the bench to score 13 points while adding four boards, three assists and three steals. Rachel Beining contributed nine markers, four rebounds and three blocks, while Macey Sheerer chipped in eight counters and six boards. Kaycee Rowe finished with seven points, four rebounds, and a career-high six assists. Whitaker's six tallies moved her into seventh on the all-time scoring list with 978 career tallies.
Manchester was led by Justine Kruger with 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.
The Beavers hit the road again as they wrap up their three-game road swing on Saturday, Feb. 6 when they take on the Transylvania University Pioneers in a 2 p.m. tip. Bluffton then returns home to the Sommer Center on Wednesday, Feb. 10 for part two of the rivalry double-dipper against the Defiance College Yellow Jackets. That game is set to tip at 6 p.m. Come support your Beavers!