Mt. St. Joseph 58, Bluffton 57
Mt. St. Joseph hits three at buzzer for 58-57 win over Beavers
January 17, 2009
CINCINNATI, Ohio - After trailing 31-17 at the half, the Beavers rallied to take a 57-55 lead on Aaron Taylor's (Antwerp) jumper with 10 seconds to play, but a Travis Huffman three-pointer at the buzzer gave MSJ the 58-57 win over the Beavers. Bluffton dropped to 10-6 overall and 4-3 in the Heartland Conference following its second consecutive heartbreaking loss. The Lions improved to 6-10 and 2-5 in the HCAC with the exciting victory.
With the Beavers trailing 50-40 at the 9:14 mark of the second half, senior captain Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) knocked down a jumper and followed that with a pair of makes from the line to cut the deficit to six points. A Nate Heckelman (Norwalk) freebie and a Nick Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue) triple made the score 52-48 in favor of the home team with 5:30 to play, setting the stage for senior Aaron Taylor's one-man assault on the Lions.
Taylor got to the rack for a layin and followed that with a trifecta, making the score 55-53 MSJ at the 2:43 mark. Two more Taylor hoops gave the Beavers their first lead since a short-lived 3-2 advantage less than four minutes into the contest. The Mount and Bluffton both called timeouts with three ticks remaining before Travis Huffman drained his three-point attempt as the buzzer sounded for the 58-57 win over the Beavers.
Mount St. Joseph rolled out to a 17-3 lead after nine minutes as Bluffton managed just a Josiah Stober (Spencerville) free throw and Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) layup until freshman Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) converted a hoop and harm with 10:28 to play in the first half.
The Lions pushed their lead to 22-6 before senior Nick Wilson (Continental) hit from in close following a Travis Huffman three-ball. Eichar and Taylor added layups, but MSJ continued to answer at the other end to keep the lead in double digits. Heckelman and Wilson both drilled a pair of free throws late in the half before two Huffman makes at the line gave MSJ a commanding 31-17 lead at the break.
Taylor opened the second stanza with a deuce and senior Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) followed with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a nine-point game (31-22) less than a minute into the half. The Lions responded with a 9-2 run to push the lead back to 16 points with 16:30 to play.
A 10-2 jag by the Beavers that included five points each from Cunningham and Heckelman quieted the home crowd and made the score 42-34 at the 12:50 mark of period two. Five straight Aaron Taylor points, including a conventional three-point play, cut the deficit to seven before a Kyle McCord deep ball made the score 50-40 with 9:14 to play.
Aaron Taylor went 8-of-13 from the field on his way to a team-high 18 points. Cunningham, who tallied 10 points, was the only other Beaver to reach double figures. Nate Heckelman chipped in with eight points and three rebounds. Eichar led Bluffton with seven boards and four assists.
Bluffton finished the game 20-of-37 (54.1 percent) from the field, including 15-for-22 (68.2 percent) in the second half. The Beavers went 13-of-18 at the stripe and pulled down 28 rebounds, two more than the home team. MSJ took advantage of 18 Bluffton turnovers while only committing 10 miscues against the Beavers. Despite outscoring the home team 40-27 in the second stanza, Bluffton's 17-3 deficit to start the game proved to be the difference.
The Beavers return to action on Wednesday, Jan. 21, when they host Defiance in a crucial Heartland Conference clash to end the first round of HCAC play. The contest is slated to tip at 7:30 p.m. in Founders Hall.