2014-15 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 70, Defiance 68
January 14, 2015
By: Owen Lugibihl, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Beavers jumped on junior post Thayne Recker’s (Arlington) back and rode him to a thrilling upset over big time rival Defiance College at the Sommer Center on Wednesday, Jan. 14, squeaking out a narrow 70-68 victory. With the victory, Bluffton snapped Defiance’s six-game winning streak and improved to 7-7 overall and 3-4 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Defiance dropped to 10-4 overall and 5-2 in the HCAC in Tom Heil's Sommer Center coaching debut with Defiance. Heil, who played for Coach Neal from 2003-07 and was a captain for the Beavers, is in his first year as head coach of the rival Jackets.
A key three-pointer by Austin Moore (Maumee/St. John’s Jesuit) with 8:27 remaining in the second stanza cut the Yellow Jackets' eight-point lead to just five. On Bluffton's next possession, Thayne Recker grabbed two offensive boards and finished with a stickback, making it a three-point game, 55-52. Following a make and a miss from the stripe by the Yellow Jackets, Recker put in two free throws, cutting Defiance’s lead to two, 56-54, with 6:59 remaining in the final stanza. Defiance responded with two from the stripe and an easy lay-in to go up six, 60-54, before the Beavers countered, marking up two free throws apiece for Recker and Austin Rohde (Shelby) and a clutch three from freshman Andrew Finley (Cincinnati/Walnut Hills), tying the score at 61 with 4:05 remaining.
The final four minutes were a heavyweight fight with each team trading blows. With 3:14 remaining, Moore stole the ball and the Beavers went up one point, 64-63, following a mid-range jumper from Recker. The Yellow Jackets countered as Bernard Edwards corralled his own miss with a tip-in to go up 65-64 with 2:26 remaining. Recker answered with another jumper and the Yellow Jackets responded with a layup coming from Mason Roth.
Recker nailed another mid-range jumper with 1:22 remaining to put the Beavers up 68-67. With ten seconds remaining, and a chance to take the lead, the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over underneath their own basket as a result of a traveling violation. Two ticks later, Billy Taflinger (Lima Central Catholic) was sent to the line and converted with two clutch free throws, expanding the Beavers lead to three, 70-67. Coach Neal called for Bluffton to foul at half-court and the Beavers sent Travis Schomaeker to the line to shoot two. Shomaeker hit the first, cutting the lead to two, but missed the second. He retrieved his own miss but his desperation three came up short as the horn sounded and the Bluffton faithful stormed the court following Bluffton's 70-68 win!
To open the game, the Yellow Jackets jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead and they didn’t stop there. The Beavers fought hard to trim the deficit to five, but that was as close as they would come in the first stanza. The home team shot just 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) in the first half and could not contain the Yellow Jackets. Riding a 15-for-26 (57.7 percent) shooting attack from the field in the first stanza, including 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) from downtown, the Yellow Jackets went on several runs throughout the first period and pushed their lead to 12 at the break, 36-24. The Beavers would not go down without a fight, though, and came out inspired and ready to play in the second stanza.
Recker led the charge for Bluffton with a career-high 34 points while shooting 12-of-24 the field and 10-of-15 from the stripe. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, two short of his career high, and added two assists while playing all but the last 25 seconds of the first half. He scored just seven points in the opening 20 minutes before exploding for 27 in the second half. Finley also lit up the scoreboard, dropping 17 points while going 6-of-8 from the field and a red hot 3-of-3 from the three-point line. The freshman phenom also dished out seven assists and pulled down two rebounds in a winning effort. It marked the third straight game that Finley has put up 17 points. Bernard Edwards was nearly unstoppable down the stretch for Defiance, going for 29 points thanks to 17 in the final half.
Bluffton was white hot in the second half, shooting a blazing 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) from the field, and completing the game shooting 25-of-47 (53.2 percent) while the Yellow Jackets finished with 25-of-48 (52.1 percent). The Beavers also proved impressive from the stripe, hitting 16-of-21 (76.2 percent), compared to the Yellow Jackets’ 11-of-14 (78.6 percent). The home team hauled in nine offensive rebounds, which led to 10 second chance points, and the Beavers won the war on the glass, 28-19. Bluffton was unselfish moving the ball around as the Beavers handed out 17 assists on their 25 baskets.
Bluffton University will look to keep on rolling as the Beavers return to HCAC action on Saturday, Jan. 17, when Transylvania University comes to town. Tip-off for the men’s game is set for 4 p.m following the conclusion of the women’s contest which tips at 2 p.m. in the Sommer Center. Come out and support your Beavers!