Bluffton drops opening two HCAC games to league's top teamsBy Tim Stried
December 9, 2002
|Special to: The Bluffton News (Dec. 12), The Witmarsum (Dec. 13), Alumni e-newsletter (Dec. 10), but you read it here first.
The Bluffton College men's basketball team took on two of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's top teams last week and was dealt a pair of losses to begin league play.
Bluffton is now 2-5 overall and 0-2 in the HCAC but will play their next four games at home, beginning on Sat., Dec. 14, as the Beavers host Mt. St. Joseph at 3 p.m. in Founders Hall. BC will host Denison the following Sat., Dec. 21, at 8 p.m.
Senior Mike Leimeister combined for 63 points and 15 rebounds in Bluffton's two games last week and currently leads the HCAC in scoring with 23.6 points per game.
Bluffton was dealt a 71-58 loss in Founders Hall last Wed. by Manchester College, the pre-season favorite in the HCAC coaches' poll.
Bluffton trailed by just six points at halftime despite shooting 23% from the floor and going 0-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half. Bluffton's defensive pressure forced 13 Manchester turnovers in the first 20 minutes and the Beavers grabbed 10 offensive rebounds.
Early in the second half, however, the Spartans went on a 13-0 run to go up by 20 points with 13:45 left in the game before Bluffton mounted a comeback of their own with an 11-0 run that brought the deficit to six at 50-56 with 5:26 remaining. That would be all the closer Bluffton would get, however, as the Spartans would hold BC without a field goal the rest of the game.
After 13 turnovers in the first half, Manchester gave the ball away just three times in the second half and finished the game 10-for-21 from 3-point range and took a 42-35 advantage on the boards.
Bluffton turned the ball over a season-low 10 times and committed a season-low 13 fouls, but Manchester held Bluffton to several other season lows, including points (58), field goals made (19), three-point shooting (3-for-20) and total field goal percentage (.317).
Leimeister scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while junior Brad Boyles scored 14 points and collected a career-high eight rebounds.
Leimeister tied his career scoring high with 36 points but Bluffton College fell 88-70 at 16th-ranked Hanover College Saturday afternoon.
Leimeister was unstoppable in the first half as he was 10-for-13 from the floor, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and 3-for-3 from the free throw line for 25 points. He finished the day 13-for-21 from the floor and 3-for-6 from behind the arc to notch his seventh career 30+ point game, which ranks third all-time at BC for the most career 30+ point games.
Leimeister was the only Beaver in double-figures and he added a game-high eight rebounds. Senior Marcus Bixler added nine points and Boyles chipped in eight.
Bluffton got behind early 7-0 but came back to trail by four points at 10-6 after four minutes had gone by in the game. At that point, however, the undefeated Panthers went on a 22-3 scoring run to go up 32-9 with 9:14 left before halftime.
The Beavers trailed 48-33 at halftime and knocked the deficit down to 13 points early in the second half, but it would be all the closer Bluffton would get.