2011-12 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 73, Earlham 72
Bluffton rallies from 16 down in 73-72 victory at Earlham
January 25, 2012
By: Evan Skilliter, sports information assistant
RICHMOND, Ind. - The Beavers struggled early at Earlham on Wednesday, Jan. 25, but erased a 16-point deficit in the last 11 minutes of the game to top the Quakers, 73-72, in dramatic fashion. The victory pushed Bluffton to 12-6 overall and 6-5 in the Heartland Conference. Earlham stayed winless at 0-18 on the year (0-11 HCAC).
The Quakers grabbed an early three-point lead, but a Josh Fisher (Rockford/Parkway) triple tied the score (4-4) three-and-a-half minutes into the game. Less than 40 seconds later, Nate Heckelman (Norwalk) found Nick Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue) for a lay-up, giving the Beavers a two-point lead.
With 9:56 left in the first half, Mychal Hill ended a 12-5 Quaker run with a three-pointer, pulling the Beavers within six (18-12). Earlham then took off on another spurt, scoring 10 points to the Beavers three. Bluffton was able to halt the run with a trey when Josh Johnson (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf) found Lee open on the perimeter, drawing the visitors to within 10 with 6:21 remaining.
Two free-throws from Johnson made it a six-point game, but the Quakers scored six unanswered points to end the half with a 39-27 lead.
The Beavers found themselves down by 12 early in the second half, but two free throws from Heckelman followed by a lay-up from Lee cut the deficit to eight with 17:01 remaining. Earlham answered the call, pushing the lead to 16 with just over 11 minutes remaining, but it was all Beavers from there.
Johnson started the comeback with a hoop and harm at the 10:48 mark. Will Pope (Somerville/Preble Shawnee) followed with a lay-up of his own, pulling the Beavers within 11 points of the lead. He drained two free throws a minute later then tallied two more counters on an offensive stickback, reducing the Quaker lead to just seven points with eight minutes left.
After a Quaker basket, Lee hit a three with five minutes left. Earlham responded with a three from Colton Bragg, but Lee fired one right back as Heckelman found him open behind the arc.
Johnson hit Dustin Kinn (Alvada/New Riegal) under the basket for a lay-up at the 3:03 mark, trimming the Quaker lead to 69-64. Lee continued his torrid shooting with another three, making it a two-point game with 1:45 to play.
Johnson pulled the Beavers within one after hitting a pair of free throws with just over one minute remaining. Lee scored his 27th point of the night and gave the Beavers their first lead since early in the game after a steal and a lay-up with just 18 seconds left. Bragg answered for the Quakers, hitting a lay-up with seven seconds remaining.
With only one second remaining in the game and his team down by one, Heckelman got to the rack for the game-winning deuce as Bluffton stunned the home crowd 73-72 while keeping the home team winless on the season.
Nick Lee finished with a game and career-high 27 points. The senior drilled 11-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-7 from outside the arc. Josh Johnson and Will Pope both turned in 10 points. Pope ripped down 10 boards for his fifth career double-double. Johnson just missed his first careeer double-double with eight caroms
On the night, the Beavers shot 24-of-53 (45 percent) from the field, including 7-of-16 (43 percent) behind the arc and 18-of-26 (69 percent) from the charity stripe. Earlham connected on 26-of-60 (43.3 percent) field goals, but just 7-of-28 (25 percent) from distance. The Beavers out-rebounded the Quakers, 39-31, but committed four more turnovers (13-9).
Bluffton will take the court again on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Franklin. The tip is slated for 4 p.m.