2017-18 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 96, Franklin 73
February 17, 2018
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men’s basketball team faced off against Franklin College in a crucial win or go home situation to get into the HCAC tournament on Saturday, Feb. 17. It was also Senior Day for the home team as they celebrated the last game on Copeland Court for KEVIN CHRISTIE (Dayton/Bishop Fenwick), ANDREW HUNTER (Arlington) and AUSTIN BUCHHOLZ (Holgate). A season-best offensive outburst by the Beavers helped them defeat the Grizzlies handily, 96-73, improving to 11-14 overall and 8-10 in the HCAC. The win secured the first HCAC tournament berth for the men since 2014-15 when the Beavers made it all the way to championship game!
An 8-0 start by Franklin put the visitors up early before five points from ANDREW RENNER (Cairo/Bath) and a three by Andrew Hunter allowed the Beavers to tie the game up four minutes in. Bluffton went ahead 16-15 after Andrew Renner knocked down a pair of free throws.
After an exchange of baskets that had the Grizzlies up 25-24, the Beavers were able to go on a 13-2 run for a 37-27 lead with 2:47 left on the clock in the first half. That run was powered by Kevin Christie who scored seven points and a defensive showcase from MANDELL RANSAW (Cleveland/Cuyahoga CC) who recorded a pair of blocks in that five-minute span. The Beavers would head into the half with a 43-31 advantage over Franklin.
Bluffton opened the second half with four points in less than 10 seconds following a Grizzly layup. Back-to-back threes by Andrew Hunter at the 10:37 mark put the Beavers up 67-47. After a layup by Mandell Ransaw, Hunter would knock down another triple that made the score 75-51 with 8:20 left in regulation.
After Franklin's standout post JOHN BEINEKE knocked down 3-for-4 from the free throw line in two possessions, consecutive threes by Kevin Christie and Andrew Renner and a lay-in by Christie allowed the Beavers to blow it open, 94-65, with 1:53 to go in the contest. Senior Austin Buchholz would get into the action and roll-in a layup off a dish from JUSTIS DOWDY (Van Wert/Lincolnview) to put Bluffton up 96-67. Franklin closed out the game on a 6-0 run but the Beavers had the last laugh as they will move on with a berth in the HCAC tournament!
In the final regular season game of the season, Andrew Renner led the charge with a career high of 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds as the sophomore recorded his first double-double. Andrew Hunter bucketed 21 and tied his career-highs for threes in the a game (5) and assists in a game (7). Kevin Christie did his thing with 20 counters to go along with four assists and Justis Dowdy collected 10 points while snagging six boards. Ransaw was a menace at the defensive end and he tallied career marks with six points and eight boards!
Bluffton had a superb day from the field, knocking down 53.1 percent (34-of-64) of its shots while Franklin went 49.1 percent (27-of-55). The Beavers were also hitting from behind the arc as they connected on a ridiculous 11-of-20 triples (55 percent) while the Grizzlies only managed 5-of-17 (29.4 percent). The home team was all over the glass as they won the battle of the boards (38-26). Second chance points went in favor of Bluffton as they outscored Franklin in that department by a 21-12 margin.
Next up for the Beavers will be the opening round of the HCAC tournament as they travel to one of the HCAC tri-champions, Hanover College, on Tuesday, Feb. 20! Bluffton will tip with the #3 seed Panthers at 6 p.m. for the right to play #2 seed Mount St. Joseph at Rose-Hulman on Friday, Feb. 23.