2002-03 Men's Basketball
bc vs. franklin
Bluffton to host Franklin Wednesday aiming to keep win streak alive
By Tim Stried
January 6, 2003
Setting the scene
Both these teams are riding a great deal of momentum heading into tonight's game. Bluffton has won four straight games, including three last week, while Franklin upset 12th-ranked Hanover 79-67 at home on Saturday, which handed the Panthers their first loss of the season. These two teams will meet again in Franklin, Ind. on Feb. 12.
The series (FC leads 8-3)
This series began during the 1996-97 season, with Franklin winning the first four games against Bluffton. BC then won three of their next four games against the Grizzlies, but FC has won the last three meetings. Franklin is 4-1 in Founders Hall.
With Bluffton's victory Sat. at Adrian, head coach Guy Neal now has 141 wins at BC, which ties him for second place on the all-time wins list along side Hall of Famer A.C. Burcky. Neal is closing in on leader Glenn Snyder, who won 150 games. Neal's six winning seasons are second only to Burcky's total of seven. Franklin is led by head coach Kerry Prather, who is in his 20th season at FC and owns a career record of 315-209.
Bluffton has won four games in a row to even its overall record at 6-6. The Beavers are 0-3 in the HCAC. Franklin had a rough start to this season, going 1-5 in their first six games, but the Grizzlies are 3-3 in their last six games including Saturday's huge upset over Hanover, and Franklin's last six losses have been by an average of just 5.3 points per game. FC is 1-2 in the HCAC.
Bluffton won at Adrian 77-69 Sat. as Guy Neal collected his 141st victory (see The coaches). For the first time this season Bluffton came back from a halftime deficit to win as BC trailed 28-27 at the intermission but shot 64% from the floor in the second half and hit 5-of-6 three-point shots. Bluffton had been 0-4 when trailing at halftime. Mike Leimeister scored a game-high 29 points and Derek DeNero scored a season-high 20 points and tied a career-high by hitting four 3-pointers in four attempts. He added three assists and Leimeister contributed three steals, while Marcus Bixler chipped in seven points and collected a team-high six assists and seven rebounds and had two steals and just one turnover in 35 minutes. Bluffton shot 54.5% from the field, including 54.5% from beyond the arc, while holding Adrian, now 4-6, to a 40.9% shooting clip and a 7-for-25 (28.0%) performance from 3-point range.
Bluffton is led by senior Mike Leimeister, who ranks first in the HCAC in scoring (24.3 ppg) and 2nd in rebounding (8.1 rpg). Last week he was named the MVP of the Fifth Annual McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Tournament and has averaged over 28 points in his last four games. Senior Derek DeNero (10.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) scored a season-high 20 points last Sat. at Adrian, while senior Marcus Bixler (9.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg) ranks 3rd in the HCAC in assists (4.1 apg) and 4th in steals (2.0 spg). Junior Brad Boyles (9.8 ppg) ranks 3rd in the HCAC in field goal percentage (.600).
Franklin is without a senior on this year's team after having four senior starters graduate off last year's team. This season the Grizzlies roster is made up of two juniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen, making them the youngest team in the HCAC. 5-11 junior Scott Study, who was Franklin's lone non-senior in the starting lineup last year as a sophomore, is averaging 14.8 points per game and has already hit 21 3-pointers, but it's 6-4 sophomore Chad Miller, who started 12 games last season, who is leading Franklin this season with 16.7 points per game (5th in HCAC) and 6.8 rebounds per game (3rd in HCAC). 5-11 sophomore Nick Scott (9.8 ppg) and 6-6 freshman Nick Kane (7.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) have both started the majority of Franklin's games this season.
Franklin won both games against Bluffton last season, winning 94-82 in Indiana on Jan. 2 and then again 97-93 here in Bluffton on Feb. 6. Bluffton went on to finish 10-16 overall and 3-11 in the HCAC, while Franklin went on to finish 20-9 overall and win the HCAC tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Wittenberg in the first round. In the game here in Founders Hall, Mike Leimeister scored 31 points and BC hit 18-of-20 free throws, but Franklin shot 59.6% from the floor, including 10-of-15 (.667) 3-pointers. BC trailed by 20 points with 14:33 left in the game but knocked that deficit down to just four points with 1:54 remaining before Franklin pulled away for the win.
These two teams are two of the lower scoring club in the HCAC (BC 6th, 74.4 ppg, FC 8th, 70.8 ppg), but they are also don't give up very many points (FC 4th, 72.4 ppg, BC 5th, 73.8 ppg). Bluffton ranks 3rd in the HCAC in both field goal percentage (.472) and free throw percentage (.723), while Franklin ranks 1st in free throw percentage (.749) but 7th in field goal percentage (.446). Franklin ranks 2nd in blocked shots (3.1 bpg). Bluffton has a positive turnover margin (+1.2), while Franklin is slightly in the negative (-0.4). Both these teams have a negative rebounding margin (BC -2.2, FC -4.3) and are also the only teams in the league averaging less than five made 3-pointers per game (BC 4.8, FC 4.8).
Common opponents this season
Three schools, Mount St. Joseph, Hanover and Earlham, have played both Bluffton and Franklin so far this season. MSJ defeated both these teams on their home court, while Earlham won at Franklin but lost at home to Bluffton. Hanover won at home over Bluffton but lost at Franklin.
New faces bring height
Both these teams have exactly seven players that stand 6-foot-4 or taller, but the majority of those players are young. Of Bluffton's seven, six are first year players (one junior, five freshmen), while of Franklin's seven, two are sophomores and five are freshmen.
3-point streak continues
Bluffton has made at least one 3-point field goal in 254 consecutive games. The last time BC didn't make a 3-pointer was Jan. 6, 1993 when BC was 0-1 from behind the arc against Adrian in Founders Hall but won anyway 64-57.
Comeback vs. Franklin still record
Bluffton's 99-96 come-from-behind-win at Franklin on Jan. 17, 2001 remains as the NCAA Division III record for greatest comeback ever. BC trailed by 28 points in the second half but came back to win in overtime. See page 15 in the media guide for details.
Record in Founders Hall
Bluffton is now 287-263 (.522) in Founders Hall since the facility opened in 1952. BC is 62-45 (.579) in Founders Hall since the start of the 1993-94 season.
Around the HCAC
Two other HCAC games are on the schedule for Wednesday night, including Defiance at Manchester and Transylvania at Hanover. In non-league action, Mount St. Joseph hosts Thomas More and Anderson host Wright State-Lake campus.