Bluffton 59, Defiance 57
Beavers take down rival Defiance College 59-57 on the road
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
February 18, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team battled against its biggest rival, Defiance College, and came out on top as junior Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) cashed in with a last-second layup which gave the Beavers a 59-57 victory on Wednesday, February 18, 2009. With the win, Bluffton greatly enhanced its chances of hosting a first-round game in the upcoming Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, starting on Tuesday, February 24. The Beavers are now 14-10 overall and 8-7 in the conference, while the Yellow Jackets dropped to 11-4 in the HCAC and 16-8 on the season.
Igniting the Beavers' offense, freshman guard Nick Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue) connected with senior post Nick Wilson (Continental) behind the arc for three points. A Mychal Hill (London/Jonathan Alder) trey ended a 6-0 Jacket rally before Eichar hit a jumper to tie the score at eight. Drives from Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) and Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) kept the score knotted 12-12 at the 13:33 mark.
Three minutes later, Hill once again slowed the Jackets' offense with a jumper. Cunningham drained his only three-pointer to pull Bluffton within four, 21-17. With six minutes remaining in the first stanza, Eichar drove to the hole for two more points. A steal by Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) resulted in a Farley layin. Shortly thereafter, Eichar came up with a Defiance miscue and raced to the basket for a quick deuce.
At the four-minute mark, a Wilson layup tied the score at 26. Wilson once again drove to the hole for a bucket, but Nick Sales picked up the last two points of the half on a stickback as the Yellow Jackets led 32-30.
Wilson also sparked the second half with a trey. It took three and a half minutes for the Beavers to score again before Taylor capitalized on an old-fashioned three-point play. Down by three, Hill found Cunningham for a layin and Cunningham assisted a Taylor triple, putting the Beavers up by two at the 13:54 mark. Minutes later Eichar broke loose from the Yellow Jackets' defense and put up two more points for the Beavers.
With 6:46 remaining in the contest, Josiah Stober (Spencerville) made his mark with a trey that tied the score at 49. Less than two minutes later, Cunningham drilled a jumper to give Bluffton the two-point edge. A pair of Eichar free-throws increased the lead to three points at the three-minute mark.
The intensity picked up in the clash as Eichar found Cunningham for a chip shot. A jumper by senior standout Anthony Pettaway and a layup from Sales tied the score at 57 with 1:26 left on the clock. An Eichar steal gave Bluffton the ball with just 34 seconds remaining. With just four seconds on the clock, Cunningham returned the favor and connected with Eichar for the game-winning basket as the Beavers stunned the Weaner Center crowd with a 59-57 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Josh Eichar and Colt Cunningham led the Beavers with 13 points, while Eichar pulled down seven rebounds, dished out five assists and picked up four steals. Cunningham had two assists and two steals in the game. Nick Wilson tallied 11 points and six boards and fellow post player Brent Farley grabbed six rebounds and had two steals in the contest.
Nick Sales paced the Yellow Jackets with 24 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Teammate Anthony Pettaway added 13 points, 12 boards, two assists and he swatted away three Bluffton shots. Mike Floyd contributed with six assists and three steals. His six points were 18 fewer than he put on the Beavers in Founders Hall a month ago.
Bluffton hit 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) from the field while Defiance went 22-of-52 (42.3 percent). The Beavers drained two more treys than the Yellow Jackets (6-4). Bluffton made 7-of-10 (70 percent) from the charity stripe, compared to 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) for Defiance. Both teams pulled down 33 rebounds and the home team committed just 11 turnovers on the night.
The Beavers will play in their last regular season contest on Saturday, February 21, when they host HCAC rival Mt. St. Joseph on Senior Day. The contest is slated to start at 3 p.m. following the women's game in Founders Hall.