Bluffton falls short in pair of Heartland Conference games as regular season winds downBy Tim Stried
February 17, 2003
|Special to: The Bluffton News (Feb. 20), The Witmarsum (Feb. 21), Alumni e-newsletter (Feb. 18), but you read it here first.
A pair of victories last week could have vaulted the Bluffton College men's basketball team into the upper half of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and almost guaranteed the Beavers of a HCAC first round tournament game in Founders Hall on Feb. 25, but the Beavers came up a bit short in both contests, including Sat. at home in overtime against Transylvania University.
Bluffton dropped an 87-68 decision at Franklin College on Wed. and fell 76-66 to Transylvania in OT Sat. to see their season record slip to 10-13 overall and 4-9 in the HCAC. Bluffton will travel to Defiance Wed. night (live broadcast on WDOH 107.1 FM) for its final league game of the season before returning home Sat. to host Thomas More at 3 p.m. in the final game of the season in Founders Hall.
Bluffton ranks second in the HCAC in field goal percentage (.483) and fourth in 3-point percentage (.372), while ranking fifth in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
Senior Mike Leimeister leads the HCAC and ranks 15th in the country in scoring (22.7 ppg) and is nearing the 1000 point mark for his career, as he now has 974 career points. His 8.3 rebounds per game rank second in the HCAC, while senior Derek DeNero (11.0 ppg) is also averaging in double figures. Junior Brad Boyles (9.8 ppg) leads the league in field goal shooting (.614), while senior Marcus Bixler (9.7 ppg) ranks second in assists (4.2 apg), third in steals (1.8 spg), fourth in 3-point shooting (.431), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and sixth in free throw shooting (.806).
Feb. 15: BC 66, Transy 76, OT
Bluffton erased a seven-point deficit with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime, but a visiting Transylvania squad out-scored the Beavers 18-8 in the extra session to claim a 76-66 win Sat. in Founders Hall.
Bluffton shot 65% from the floor in the first half but still trailed 36-32 at the intermission. The Beavers held Transy to a 26.9% shooting clip in the second half and Bluffton went on an 8-0 to take a 56-55 lead with 3:17 to play.
The two teams hit just one field goal in the final three minutes of regulation, which ended at a 58-58 tie as a Bluffton shot missed its mark at the final buzzer. In overtime, BC starters Eric Sweet and Marcus Bixler fouled out and the Pioneers hit 6-of-8 shots to take control early and knock off Bluffton in Founders Hall for the second year in a row.
Bluffton, which has won at Transylvania for two years in a row including last season in overtime and this season 93-83 on Jan. 18, out-rebounded the Pioneers 39-31 and hit 16-of-19 free throws for a season-best 84.2%, but committed a season-high 26 turnovers.
Leimeister collected his 10th career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but was held nine points under his season average. Boyles scored a team-high 17 points to lead Bluffton and freshman Simeon Talley scored 11 points in his first collegiate start.
Feb. 12: BC 68, Franklin 87
Leimeister poured in a game-high 30 points but it wasn't enough as the Beavers fell at Franklin Wed., 87-68. It was Leimeister's 11th career 30-point game and he added 10 rebounds to collect his 9th career double-double.
In the first half Franklin shot over 58% from the floor and was 14-for-14 from the free throw line en route to a 49-36 halftime lead, and the Grizzlies, who earlier this season handed 12th ranked Hanover its only loss of the season, kept their hot shooting alive in the second half by hitting 50% of their shots from the field and going 12-for-14 from the line.
Bluffton ended the game just 1-for-16 from 3-point range, which although did extend its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 264 in a row, didn't prove to be enough to cut into Franklin's lead in the second half as the Grizzlies swept the season series against the Beavers. Bluffton's one made trey and 6% effort from beyond the arc marked new season-lows.
Going cold from trey land was something Bluffton hadn't had happen to them in over a month. In their previous eight games heading into Wednesday night the Beavers had connected on 68-of-134 three-point attempts for a 50.8% efficiency and owned a league-best 39.6% shooting clip from 3-point range for the season.
Bluffton turned the ball over just 11 times in the game, but Franklin committed just 10 giveaways.