Pioneers knock out Bluffton 78-66
FRANKLIN, Ind. - Bluffton's season came to an end as they dropped a 78-66 decision to Transylvania in the semifinals of the HCAC tournament on Friday, February 23, 2007. The Beavers finish the season with an 18-8 overall record, 10-6 in Heartland Conference action.
Transylvania used a trey by Gary Mouser and a jumper by Joey Searle to race out to a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes of the contest.
Bluffton fought right back as Eric Schwieterman (St. Henry/St. Henry) knocked down two free throws and Mike Anthony (Ohio City/Delphos St. John's) connected from deep to knot the game at 5-5 just a minute later.
The two teams traded baskets the next five minutes until the Pioneers went on a 10-2 run over three minutes of the first half. Tim Tierney's second three-pointer of that stretch helped push the Transy lead to 20-12 with nine minutes left in the first stanza.
Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) carried the load for the Beavers over next two minutes as the sophomore wingman scored the next eight points for Bluffton. His second trifecta during that span pulled Bluffton within two, 22-20.
The game remained close over the remaining six minutes of the first half as neither team led by more than four points. Bluffton went into the locker room with a 36-34 advantage.
Both teams came out hot to start the second half, matching each other basket for basket. Neither team led by more than four points during the first 14 minutes of the second half, when foul trouble became an issue for the Beavers.
Transy standout Nick Feagan came alive over the last six minutes as he broke open the game with eight consecutive points to help the Pioneers grab their largest lead since mid-way through the first half, 63-58.
A lay-up by Aaron Taylor (Antwerp/Antwerp) and two free throws by Zack Kraus (Findlay/Findlay) helped keep Bluffton within reach with just under three minutes remaining, 68-63.
Trailing late in the game the Beavers were forced to foul, but strong free throw shooting by Transylvania put the game out of reach. The Pioneers shot 7-of-9 from the charity stripe in the final minute, knocking Bluffton out of the HCAC tournament with a 78-66 victory.
Bluffton lost despite shooting an impressive 48 percent from the field, while connecting on 23-of-29 attempts from the free throw line. Unlike the last contest against Transy, turnovers were not a factor as the Beavers only committed nine on the night, but 11 threes by the Pioneers proved too much for Bluffton to overcome.
Cunningham led the Beavers with 17 points, shooting 6-of-13 from the field. Anthony and Taylor were the only other Beavers to reach double figures in scoring, dropping in 16 and 15 respectively. Schwieterman scored seven points and had three steals in his last game as a Beaver.
This concludes the 2006-07 season for Bluffton. Transylvania will meet the winner of the Franklin vs. Defiance contest in the HCAC tournament finals.