Bluffton 93, Anderson 88 (OT)
Bluffton moves into 4th place in HCAC with 93-88 OT win over AU
February 12, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team went 15-of-16 from the line in overtime to secure a 93-88 victory over Anderson University on a windy Wednesday, February 11, 2009. Five Beavers finished in double digits as Bluffton moved into fourth place in the Heartland Conference despite trailing by 10 points (58-48) with just 7:31 to play in regulation. The Beavers improved to 13-9 overall and 7-6 in the conference, while Anderson dropped to 14-9 (7-7 HCAC).
A pair of Rodney Holliday freebies with 7:31 on the clock gave AU a commanding 58-48 spread over the home team. Bluffton misfired on its next possession before freshman Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) got to the rack for a bucket. Senior Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian), who was honored for going over 1,000 points in Bluffton's victory at Manchester, converted back-to-back hoops and then Farley used a nice feed from Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) to trim the deficit to two points with 4:39 to play.
The Beavers still trailed by six points at the 2:46 mark, but six consecutive Aaron Taylor points helped Bluffton make it a two-point contest with 1:30 showing on the clock. Freshman Nick Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue) collected a Nick Wilson (Continental) miss and found Cunningham in the corner for a triple in front of the Bluffton bench, giving the Beavers their first lead of the half.
Lee drained a pair at the stripe, however, Rodney Holliday hit from in close to keep Anderson within a point. Wilson made one of two at the line before Mike Russell tied the game at 72 with just seven ticks remaining. The teams traded turnovers, setting the stage for the second overtime game between the two squads this season.
Anderson jumped on top in the extra session with a three from Ty Riddle. Wilson and Cunningham both hit two from the stripe and Cunningham followed with a layup from Taylor to put the home team up 78-75 with 3:13 to play. Jordan Wiseman answered with another deep ball, one of four threes he knocked down in the loss, on Anderson's ensuing possession.
An Aaron Taylor layup with 2:06 showing finally put Bluffton on top for good. Four consecutive Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) free throws made the score 90-86 with 19 seconds left before Eichar, who made life miserable for Ravens' standout guard Mike Russell all night, picked his pocket and split a pair at the line to make the score 91-86 with seven ticks on the clock. Holiday made it a three-point game following a lob from the sideline, but freshman Mychal Hill (London/Jonathon Alder) iced it with two more freebies to give Bluffton a 93-88 overtime victory.
Holiday quickly put Anderson up 4-0 with a pair of hoops on the Ravens' first two touches of the game. Nick Lee and Eichar responded with back-to-back layups to knot the score at four less than three minutes in. Following a pair of AU makes at the line, Bluffton used 11 unanswered points, including a Mychal Hill trifecta, to take a 15-6 lead with 12:21 remaining in the first half.
Jordan Wiseman slowed the Bluffton run with a three and Gabe Miller's bucket helped Anderson cut the deficit to four points. A hoop and two free throws by Eichar pushed the lead back to seven points (21-14) two minutes later. The Ravens stayed within striking distance and they finally went ahead when Russell hit from distance at the 3:48 mark of the first stanza.
Junior Jordan Pothast (Ottawa-Glandorf) hooked up with Josiah Stober (Spencerville) for an easy deuce. Back-to-back Anderson scores made it a three-point game with 48 seconds on the clock, but Taylor scored the last three points of the half to make the score 32-32 at the break.
The home team struggled to find the basket early in the second half as Anderson opened a 40-34 lead with 15:38 to go in the period. Eichar kept the game close with five consecutive points and a highlight reel stuff of Russell at the other end. Cunningham tied it back up at 42 when he was drilled on a three-ball and calmly converted all three opportunities from the line.
An 11-3 Anderson spurt that Wiseman capped with a deep ball put the Ravens up 53-45 midway through the half. Three Farley freebies sandwiched around a Ty Riddle triple kept the lead at eight until Holliday's foul shots gave the visitors their largest lead of the game with 7:31 to play in regulation.
Bluffton's revamped starting lineup that included three new faces helped the Beavers to a season split with the Ravens. Five players for each team reached double figures. Colt Cunningham led the Beavers with 20 points on 6-of-10 from the field and 7-of-7 at the line. Josh Eichar finished with a career-high 19 points, including 11-of-13 at the line, seven boards and three steals while blanketing AU's Russell all night. Aaron Taylor came off the bench for 15 points and three assists while hitting 6-of-7 shots from the field. Nick Wilson and Brent Farley, both new faces in the starting lineup, added 13 points apiece.
Bluffton hit 27-of-47 (57.4 percent) shots from the field, including just 2-of-10 from outside. Anderson went 30-of-66 (45.5 percent), but the Ravens drained 13-of-32 (40.6 percent) from distance. The Beavers made a living at the line, converting 37-of-45 tries (82.2 percent), compared to 15-for-17 (88.2 percent) by the Ravens. Anderson won the war on the glass (35-28), including 16-6 on the offensive end.
Rodney Holliday tallied a game-high 21 points to pace five Ravens in double figures. Ty Riddle sparked the visitors with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Mike Russell, who torched the Beavers for 37 points on 9-of-13 three-point shooting in Founders Hall a year ago, was limited to 14 points, while Jordan Wiseman and Andrew Jones chipped in with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Holliday hauled in 11 boards and dished out four assists in the loss.
The Beavers return to action with a crucial HCAC battle at Transylvania on Saturday, February 14, 2009. The contest is slated to start at 4 p.m. following the women's game against the Pioneers.
The Bluffton women trailed 21-9 at Anderson with three minutes to play in the first half when high winds blew out a transformer causing the University to lose power. The contest will resume in Anderson at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 12, 2009.