Bluffton 78, Defiance 69
Bluffton secures berth in HCAC tourney with 78-69 win over Defiance
By: Evan Miller, sports information assistant
February 18, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team came away with a huge win against HCAC rival Defiance College (78-69) on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, in front of a raucous Founders Hall crowd. The Bluffton win clinched a berth in the upcoming HCAC tournament, and it was also the first time the Beavers have swept the season series with Defiance. Bluffton upped its record to 14-10 and 6-9 in the HCAC, while Defiance dropped to 9-15 overall and 5-10 in conference play. The victory also assured the Bluffton women of their first winning campaign since 1997-98 and it leaves the Beavers just two wins from the school-best mark of 16-9 in 1995-96.
The Beavers established a 5-2 lead following a Becky Ruble (Grover Hill/Wayne Trace) triple with 17:27 left in the first half. Defiance answered back, getting its first lead of the game at the 14:20 mark with a Tasha Stucke layup. A Mandie White layup from Stucke gave Defiance a 14-9 advantage with 12:10 left on the clock. At the 9:33 mark, another layup by Amber Bailey kept the Yellow Jackets' lead at five (16-11).
The Beavers got back into the game at 16-16 when freshman Beth Yoder (Marshallville/Smithville) connected on her only three of the night, assisted by Brittany Lewis (Springfield/Shawnee) with 8:13 left in the half.
After Defiance drained a three on the next possession, sophomore Kim Miller (Delphos/St. John's) cut the deficit to just one point, 19-18, with two free throws. Bluffton regained the lead as Brittany Lewis dished out another assist, this time setting up junior Ginny Buckingham (Bluffton) for a layup which made the score 20-19.
The Yellow Jackets briefly enjoyed a one-point lead, but the Beavers opened a 27-23 spread thanks to a deep ball from Becky Ruble with just over two minutes to play in the half. With 1:10 left, Ruble got to the rack, pushing the Bluffton advantage to 31-23. Following a Defiance turnover, freshman Brittany Stegmaier (Garfield/Trinity) hit the last basket of the half, giving the Beavers their first double-digit lead of the night at 33-23.
Kim Miller knocked down a jumper on Bluffton's first possession as the Beavers looked eager to extend their lead to start the second half. At the 17:40 mark, Emily Shellabarger (St. Marys/Memorial) connected with Ginny Buckingham for a layup, making the score 41-25.
The visitors did not go away easily and they chipped away at Bluffton's lead as Tasha Stucke drained a jumper off a Katie Carunchia rebound to make it an eight-point game, 45-37. At the 12:30 mark, Becky Ruble used a Vicki Auer (Cincinnati/Roger Bacon) dime as she again dialed long distance for a 52-39 advantage.
Defiance's Mandie White trimmed Bluffton's lead to 10, 59-49, when she hit a jumper courtesy of an assist from Jenna Deskins. At the 6:31 mark Katie Lord (Toledo/Whitmer) split a pair of free throws, pushing Bluffton's lead to 65-51.
Defiance cut the lead to just six points (69-63) with 2:45 left following a Mandie White layup. However, on Bluffton's next possession junior Vicki Auer slammed the door shut for good, hitting a trifecta from Kim Miller for a 72-63 margin. The game ended on a meaningless three-pointer by Tasha Stucke with 11 seconds left and the Beavers ran out the clock as the celebration claimed the court following Bluffton's 78-69 win.
Defiance and Bluffton both shot well from the charity stripe as Defiance made 8-of-9 (89 percent) attempts from the line while the Beavers were 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) for the game. The Beavers finished with a commanding 46-35 edge on the glass. Defiance had just 11 turnovers, compared to Bluffton's 16.
Freshman Emily Shellabarger paced Bluffton with 13 boards and 12 points for her 10th double-double of the season. Leading Bluffton in scoring was Kim Miller who poured in 15. Becky Ruble and Ginny Buckingham added 13 and 10 points, respectively. Vicki Auer chipped in with nine points and Brittany Stegmaier went 4-of-4 at the line on her way to eight points. Miller and Buckingham pulled down eight and six caroms, respectively, while Brittany Lewis dished out a team-high six assists. Miller and Ruble both handed out four dimes.
Mandie White tallied a game-high 19 points for the Jackets. Tasha Stucke and Holly Stein chipped in with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Stucke dished out a game-high 10 assists.
Bluffton will play its final regular-season contest of the year when the Beavers host The College of Mt. St. Joseph on February 21 at 1 p.m. With Bluffton's win tonight the Beavers earned a slot in the upcoming HCAC tournament which tips off on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at a site to be determined.