Bluffton 91, Hanover 85
Beavers end Hanover's seven game HCAC tournament winning streak with 91-85 opening
By Molly Burnell, sports information assistant
February 21, 2006
HANOVER, Ind. -The Bluffton University men's basketball team traveled to Hanover College on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 to face the Panthers in the first round of the HCAC tournament. The Beavers battled throughout the game and came out with the victory, 91-85. With the win, Bluffton improves to 17-9, 6-8 HCAC on the season. The victory is the second Heartland Conference tournament win for the Beavers in as many seasons. This is the first time in Bluffton history that the team will play in the second round of the tournament two years in a row.
Senior Eric Sweet (Ottawa/Ottawa Glandorf) opened things up for the Beavers with a jumper less than a minute into the game. Sweet made it two for two with a layup before Hanover's Nate Minyard drained a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 5-4 advantage. Junior Eric Schwieterman (St. Henry/St. Henry) knocked down a triple and sliced his was to the basket for a layup to take the lead from Hanover (11-7) at the 16:16 mark. Senior Darren Clark (Plain City/Jonathan Alder) drove to the hoop pushing the Beavers' lead to six. Junior Michael Anthony (Ohio City/Delphos St. Johns), who had not seen the court since January 18 due to an broken hand, picked up where he left off as he drained a 3-pointer to put the Beavers back on top by six points with 13:03 to play. Two slick Panther baskets cut the Bluffton lead to two points before a Beaver timeout got the team back on track. A layin by freshman post Nick Wilson (Continental/Continental) and two free throws by Schwieterman put Bluffton back on top by five. Hanover battled back to take its second lead of the contest with a pair of triples and two buckets as it led by one point (24-23) midway through the period. Sweet rallied the troops when he scored with 5:46 to play. Freshman Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) knocked down a 3-pointer and Sweet finished what he started with another basket to take a one point lead (36-35) with 5:08 to play. Anthony buried a jumper and Marc O'Leary nailed a crowd pleasing triple to tie the game at 38 at the 4:23 mark. Senior Scott Bergman (Elmore/Woodmore) made his presence known late in the first half with consecutive jumpers which knotted the game at 42 with 3:28 to play. Five points in a row by Hanover's Ben Lye pushed the Panthers to a four-point advantage. Junior Tom Heil (Stow/Archbishop Hoben) silenced Hanover with a 3-pointer to cut the Panthers lead to one point 50-49 with less than two minutes to play in the opening stanza. A Bergman trey as time expired tied the game at 52 going into the locker room.
The Beavers continued their offensive tear in the second period as an old fashioned three-point play by sophomore P.J. Juenger (Loveland/Archbishop Moeller) put Bluffton up by six points at the 13:36 mark. Three straight Panther buckets tied the game at 64 less than two minutes later. Freshman Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) sparked the Beavers defensively as Bluffton held Hanover scoreless for over three minutes. While the Panthers struggled to find their stroke, the Beavers fought their way to the hoop to give Bluffton its largest lead of the night, 75-64, with under ten minutes to play. A foul shot by Robby Brown and a 3-pointer by Minyard cut the Beavers advantage to seven points before Rufenacht nailed two freebies and Anthony took one to the basket to give Bluffton another 11-point lead (79-68). Chrin and Bergman traded triples before O'Leary started a Hanover comeback with a jumper at the 3:32 mark. Talpas and Lye added baskets as the Panthers cut the Bluffton advantage to two (82-80) at the 2:34 mark. Following a Bluffton timeout, Sweet hit a layup which gave the Beavers a four-point lead before Rufenacht advanced the cushion to six points with 1:09 remaining. The Panthers were forced to foul and Bergman sank three of his four attempts in the final minute as the Beavers held on for the 91-85 victory.
Bergman led all scorers with 24 points; the senior also hauled in six rebounds and dished out four assists in the win. Sweet scored 14 points, pulled down six rebounds and handed out three assists. Schwieterman added 14 points and picked up a team-high two steals. Anthony came off the bench to contribute 13 points and grab two boards. Rufenacht rounded out double- digit scoring for the Beavers with 12 points; he also pulled down a team-high nine boards in the victory.
As a team, Bluffton scorched the nets with a 60 percent shooting effort from the field compared to Hanover's 43 percent. The Beavers knocked in 19-of-22 foul shots and drained 8-of-15 3-pointers in the victory. Hanover won the battle of the boards as the Panthers ripped down 40 rebounds while Bluffton grabbed 35 rebounds.
Bluffton will travel to Transylvania on Friday, February 24, 2006 to meet the second seeded Franklin College Grizzlies in the semifinals of the HCAC tournament. The contest will tip-off at 6 p.m.