Manchester 84, Bluffton 76
Second half surge leads Manchester past Bluffton, 84-76
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
January 28, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team failed to hold its early lead as the Beavers loss to conference foe Manchester, 84-76, on a snowy Wednesday, January 28. With the loss, the Beavers fell to 12-7 overall and 4-6 in the HCAC. Manchester improved to 11-8 on the season and 6-4 in conference action.
Junior Ginny Buckingham (Bluffton) ignited the Bluffton offense with a drive to the basket for two points and just seconds later, freshman Emily Shellabarger (St. Mary's/Memorial) knocked down her first jumper. A Buckingham steal set up Vicki Auer (Cincinnati/Roger Bacon) for an assist, as Buckingham added two more points in the early 6-0 spurt.
At the 16:22 mark, a pass from Auer found Shellabarger for another jumper. Sophomore forward Kim Miller (Delphos/St. Johns) connected with Auer for a trey, putting the Beavers up 11-8. A push by Kelley Meiklejohn resulted in three freebies from freshman Becky Ruble (Grover Hill/Wayne Trace). Manchester rolled forward with a 6-0 run before being slowed by a Miller layup at the 10:45 mark.
The fifth minute of the first stanza proved to be all Kim Miller as she knocked in two baskets plus a free throw in a matter of thirty seconds. With just less than three minutes remaining in the half, Buckingham drove to the bucket for another two points and at halftime the Beavers trailed by one, 33-32.
Freshman sharpshooter Beth Yoder (Marshallville/Smithville) sparked the second half surge for the Beavers by draining a three-pointer. A minute later, Shellabarger added four more points for Bluffton thanks to two Miller assists. At the 15:16 mark, it was Shellabarger's turn to share the wealth as she found Buckingham for a score.
Junior Katie Lord (Toledo/Whitmer) followed a Shellabarger deuce with a basket from behind the arc, giving Bluffton a brief lead, 62-61. With three minutes remaining on the clock and trailing by five, Miller split the Spartans' defense as she drove to the bucket for two. Freshman Brittany Lewis (Springfield/Shawnee) got to the rack and Ruble converted in close with the help of Shellabarger before Manchester bulldozed ahead on another 6-0 rally. One final trey from Yoder proved to be the last points in the game as the Spartans completed their season sweep of the Beavers, 84-76.
Emily Shellabarger paced the Beavers with 18 points and nine boards. She also picked up six assists and swatted away two Spartan shots. Kim Miller went for 17 points, five dimes, four boards, two steals and one block. Ginny Buckingham chipped in 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, along with having two assists and a steal on the night.
Kelley Meiklejohn led the Spartans with 30 points, five boards, three steals, and an assist on a phenomenal 13-of-17 shooting performance. Sarah Bose, the Spartans' outstanding ball handler, countered with 22 points against the Beavers, along with six assists, five rebounds and two steals. She finished the contest a perfect 10-of-10 at the stripe. Kailey Honn snatched five boards and teammate Toni Hayward blocked two Bluffton shots.
The game came down to turnovers and foul shots as the home team committed 18 miscues to just 10 for the visitors. The Beavers were 10-of-14 (71.4 percent) from the foul line, while Manchester pulled ahead by making 24-of-29 (82.8 percent) free throws. Both teams had similar field goal percentages, 50.9 percent (29-of-57) for the Spartans and 50.8 percent (30-of-59) for the Beavers. Bluffton finished with four more treys (6-2) and the Beavers pulled down two more rebounds (32-30) than Manchester in the contest.
Bluffton returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 31, when the Beavers travel to face Franklin College. The contest is slated to tip at 2 p.m.