bc vs. denison
Bluffton aiming to get back on track against Denison SaturdayNotes compiled by Tim Stried
Game date: Saturday, December 21
Game time: 3 p.m.
Denison University Web site
Complete Gameday program in PDF format
Setting the scene
With Saturday's non-league game Bluffton ends a three-game streak of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference games, while Denison ends a two-game North Coast Athletic Conference streak. BC is in the middle of a four-game home stand, while Denison is back on the road again for the eighth time already this season. The Big Red played their first seven games away from their home court to begin this season and play nine of their first 10 games on the road. Both of these teams did not have a mid-week game this past week as BC enjoyed their first week of vacation and Denison had final exams.
The series (DU leads 9-6)
Denison leads the all-time series 9-6 against Bluffton, but the Beavers have won the last three games against the Big Red by an average of 18.7 points per game. BC won last season in Granville 85-65.
Bluffton is led by 14th-year head coach Guy Neal, who ranks fourth on the BC all-time wins list with 137 victories. He is closing in on leaders Ken Mast (140), A.C. Burcky (141) and Glenn Snyder (150) and Neal's six winning seasons are second only to Burcky's total of seven. Denison is led by first-year head coach Bob Ghiloni, who is a 1981 graduate of The Ohio State University.
Bluffton started out 2-2 this season but is now 2-6 overall and is looking to snap a four-game losing skid today. The Beavers are currently 0-3 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, with those three losses coming against teams are now a combined 6-2 in the league. The Beavers are 1-3 at home this season.
Denison is also 2-6 after starting out 2-3, with those first three losses coming by an average of just six points, including one in overtime. In their last three games, however, the Big Red has been beaten by an average score of 16 points.
Bluffton is coming off a 67-60 league loss at home to The College of Mount St. Joseph last Saturday. BC overcame a seven-minute dry spell in the first half to nearly take the lead early in the second half, but MSJ held off BC's rally. Bluffton junior Brad Boyles hit a lay-up on Bluffton's first possession of the game but the Mount then held the Beavers without a field goal until the 12:24 mark in the first half as the Lions built a 22-3 lead to start the game. That would be the visitors' biggest lead of the game, though, as Bluffton then hit 12-of-19 field goal attempts to close out the first half and trail by 11 points at halftime, 41-30.
Bluffton then scored the first nine points of the second half to bring the deficit to just two points at 41-39 with 17:16 remaining in the game, but Mount St. Joseph was able to answer BC baskets down the stretch to keep the lead and eventually pull away for their seven point win. Bluffton senior Mike Leimeister scored a team-high 18 points, 16 coming in the second half, and tied his career high with 12 rebounds. Boyles ended the game with 12 points.
Denison, meanwhile, saw their last action nine days ago as Grove City College improved to 6-0 with an 83-66 win in Granville in the Big Red's home opener. DU trailed just 35-34 at halftime but GCC shot 76% from the floor in the second half to pull away for the win. Denison committed just 12 turnovers in the game and was led by Chris Hull, who came off the bench to score 13 points.
Bluffton is led by senior Mike Leimeister, who leads the HCAC in scoring (22.9 ppg) and ranks third in rebounding (7.8 rpg). Junior Brad Boyles ranks 16th in scoring (11.6 ppg) and ranks second in field goal percentage (.621), while senior Derek DeNero ranks 20th in scoring (10.4 ppg). Senior Marcus Bixler leads the HCAC in steals (2.6 spg) and ranks third in assists (4.1 apg).
The Big Red return three starters from last season's team, which finished 7-19 overall with all seven of their wins coming against NCAC foes, but none of those three returners are among Denison's statistical leaders this season. So far in 2002-03 Denison is being led by freshman Robb Hern (11.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg), while senior Tommy Hodgkinson (9.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and sophomore Clint Shepherd (9.4 ppg, 13 3-pointers, 45% 3-point shooter) are also producing.
Mike Leimeister, then a junior, and Rod Overmyer, who graduated last spring, combined for 58 points to lead Bluffton to an 85-65 win at Denison last year on Dec. 15. Both players set new career highs at the time as Leimeister scored 30 points and Overmyer scored 28. The 20-point win snapped Bluffton's four-game losing streak as the Beavers shot 52.8% from the floor in the game and converted 26-of-37 free throw attempts. Denison went to the free throw line just 15 times and committed 27 turnovers. Derek DeNero added 15 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Marcus Bixler scored five points and dished out 11 assists, just two shy of his own school record set earlier this season. Tony Price led DU with 15 points, while Alan Bradshaw added 13 and Perry Young chipped in 10.
Common opponents this season
One common opponent appears on both team's schedules so far this season as Mount St. Joseph handed the Beavers and Big Red losses. Bluffton was defeated 67-60 by MSJ here last Saturday, while Denison lost 66-60 at MSJ on Nov. 26.
3-point streak continues
Bluffton has made at least one 3-point field goal in 250 consecutive games. The last time BC didn't make a 3-pointer was Jan. 6, 1993 when BC was 0-1 from behind the arc against Adrian in Founders Hall but won anyway 64-57.
Record in Founders Hall
Bluffton is now 284-263 (.519) in Founders Hall since the facility opened in 1952. BC is 59-45 (.567) in Founders Hall since the start of the 1993-94 season.
Home for the holidays good for BC
Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Bluffton is 20-6 (769) in Founders Hall in the month of December. BC was 19-1 at home in December from 1996-97 through 2000-01, but is 1-5 in their last six games.
Around the HCAC
Two other Heartland Conference teams are taking on non-league opponents Saturday at home as Manchester hosts Albion and Transylvania hosts Asbury.