Bluffton 73, Mt. St. Joseph 71
Beavers rally in second half for 73-71 win over MSJ
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
January 16, 2008
BLUFFTON, Ohio - Bluffton University men's basketball team knocked off HCAC rival Mt. St. Joseph in Founders Hall, 73-71, on Wednesday, January 16, 2008. The victory, coupled with Transylvania's home loss to Hanover, moved the Beavers into second place in the HCAC, one-half game behind Defiance which fell to Franklin College by a score of 76-66. Bluffton improved to 11-5 overall and 5-2 in conference play while the Lions dropped to 7-8 overall and 1-5 in the HCAC.
Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) jump started the Beavers' offense with a layin following an offensive rebound. A trey by Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) made it 9-8 in favor of the home team less than five minutes into the game.
After a Lion layup by Mitchell Goldschmidt, MSJ took the lead for the rest of the first half. Ben Shindeldecker (Ohio City/Crestview) and Aaron Taylor (Antwerp/Antwerp) each chipped in with two points as the Lions used a 30-12 jag to open up a 38-21 lead with 6:17 to play in the first half.
Two layins by Nick Wilson (Continental/Continental) were not enough to stop the Lion offense as the Mount hit 50 percent (6-of-12) from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes of action.
With 2:34 remaining in the first half, senior Nate Overmyer (Payne/Wayne Trace) sank a triple to pull Bluffton within 13 points, 43-30. After a jumper by Taylor and a drive by Zack Kraus (Findlay/Findlay), the Beavers still trailed by 11 points, 45-34, at the break.
The second half opened up with a trey by Colt Cunningham, followed by a jumper from Wilson thanks to a dish from Josh Eichar (North Baltimore/North Baltimore) after he picked off the Lions in the backcourt. Back-to-back layins by Rufenacht helped pull the Beavers within three points of the Lions, 54-51.
At the 10:14 mark, Wilson got to the rack for the hoop and harm, courtesy of an assist from Taylor. With 7:42 remaining on the clock, Eichar stole the ball and tossed it to Cunningham. Wilson snatched the offensive board and made it a three-point game when he put it back up and in.
A pair of Rufenacht charity tosses tied the score at 61 with less than seven minutes to go. Wilson drove to the hoop and picked up a freebie at the charity stripe to put the Beavers ahead, 64-63. Taylor hit a wide-open three-ball from the left corner to increase the Beavers' lead to 67-63 with 5:21 remaining in the game.
Nate Overmyer fed a Wilson layup to make the score 69-67 in favor of the home team. With less than a minute left on the clock, Aaron Taylor and Zack Kraus both picked up two free throws apiece to give Bluffton the victory, 73-71.
Nick Wilson led the Beavers with his second career double-double, a 23 point and 10 rebound performance which included seven on the offensive end. He also had three assists and two blocks for the night. Aaron Taylor finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Justin Rufenacht chipped in with 12 points and 8 boards, while Colt Cunningham grabbed six rebounds and added 11 points for Bluffton. Zack Kraus picked up six points and a block, and Josh Eichar came away with six steals to tie his career-high.
The Lions were paced by Michael Eirons with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Michael Romes also had seven rebounds for MSJ, to go along with his 15 points. Chris Cioffi, who buried 4-of-6 triples, and Mitchell Goldschmidt had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Bluffton went 13-of-20 (65 percent) from the charity stripe, with Mount St. Joseph sinking 10-of-15 (66.7 percent). The Lions led in three-pointers with nine, while the Beavers hit only 4-of-17 in the contest. Bluffton had a slight edge in rebounds, 35-32. The Beavers went 28-for-68 (41.2 percent) from the field, compared to 26-of-49 (53.1 percent) for the Lions. The Mount coughed it up 19 times, five more than the Beavers.
The Bluffton University men's basketball team will host HCAC rival Franklin College on Saturday, January 19, 2008. Tip time is slated for 3 p.m. in Founders Hall.