2016-17 Women's Basketball
#6 St. Thomas 67, Bluffton 63
December 30, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women’s basketball team took on #6 ranked St. Thomas in the championship game of the McDonald’s Holiday Tournament on Friday, Dec. 30. It was an exhilarating affair, but the Beavers came up just short as the Tommies stayed undefeated at 10-0 with the 67-63 victory. Bluffton heads into the new year with a sterling 8-2 mark.
A layup by tournament MVP KAITLIN LANGER put St. Thomas up 11-5 at the 5:58 mark of the first quarter. Bluffton would fight back and go on a 13-0 spurt to take an 18-11 lead, capped off with a three by MACEY SHEERER (Bucyrus). A TJ MILLS (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) jumper gave the Beavers a 22-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Tommies knotted the game at 26 midway through the second quarter following a layup by LUCIA RENIKOFF. An 8-0 run by the Beavers made the score 37-28 with just under three minutes left in the half. St. Thomas trimmed the deficit to four at half as the Beavers went into the break with a 37-33 lead.
ABIGAIL O’DONNELL (Arcanum) opened up the second half with a triple which extended Bluffton’s lead to 40-33. The Tommies went ahead 51-50 after a three from LAUREN FISCHER. Bluffton would go up 54-51 headed into the fourth quarter after free throws by Rowe and Sheerer.
St. Thomas responded, going up 58-56 after Langer hit a layup off a pass from GABBY ZEHRER. A quick spurt by the Tommies made the score 62-56 before Abigail O’Donnell nailed a wide-open trifecta to make it a three-point game with 2:21 remaining in regulation. Bluffton pulled within two but a tip-in by Renikoff made it a two-possession game with less than a minute on the clock. The Beavers gave a St. Thomas team that came into the tournament averaging 30 more points than its opponents (76.6 to 45.9) the Tommies' closest game of the season, 67-63, in the McDonald's title tilt.
Leading the charge offensively for Bluffton was Macey Sheerer who put up a game-high 23 points to go along with five boards and four assists. Abigail O’Donnell added 12 markers and nine rebounds while Kaycee Rowe notched 12 points as well. Sheerer and O'Donnell were both named to the All-Tournament Team!
The Beavers struggled to find their rhythm in the second half as they shot 36.8 percent (21-of-57) from the floor. Despite losing the rebounding battle 36-32, the Beavers were able to force 19 St. Thomas turnovers. The three-point shot was key for the visitors as the Tommies went 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) to Bluffton’s 5-of-13 (38.5 percent).
Bluffton will look to avenge the loss when they ring in the new year at home with Mount St. Joseph on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 p.m.