2008-09 Men's Basketball
Defiance 71, Bluffton 68
Defiance scores last seven points of game for 71-68 win in Founders
By: Evan Miller, sports information assistant
January 21, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton men's basketball team failed to hold on to its late lead as the Beavers fell to rival Defiance College, 71-68, on January 21, 2009. The heartbreaking loss dropped the Beavers' record to 10-7 overall, and an even 4-4 in conference play. Defiance improved to 11-6 and 6-2 in the HCAC.
The Yellow Jackets' senior post Anthony Pettaway, who has had monster games against the Beavers during his four years at Defiance, opened the contest with a jumper. Bluffton did a good job on Pettaway for most of the night, holding him to 12 hard-earned points, three fewer than his season average of 15.
Bluffton's Colt Cunnigham (Powell/Worthington Christian) got the Beavers into the scoring column, hitting a jumper to tie the score at two with 18:34 left. Eric Stolly picked off a Bluffton pass and took the ball down the floor for a three-pointer, pushing the Yellow Jackets' advantage to 10-4.
Just when it looked like Defiance was starting to pull away, Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) hit a three, thanks to an assist from Cunningham, which cut the deficit to 12-10. At the 13:53 mark, freshman Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) bucketed his first deuce of the night off the bench, and it also gave the Beavers their first lead of the contest, 14-12.
The game continued to go back and forth, but Defiance managed to open up a five-point lead, 21-16, following a Heath Armstrong three-pointer. Senior Josiah Stober (Spencerville) gave Bluffton a two-point lead (25-23) with 7:31 left in the first half. Defiance's Josh Stuckey answered for the visitors, tying the game for the eighth time at 27 with two freebies. Both teams capitalized on free throw opportunities as Defiance went 14-of-18 from the line, and the Beavers hit an impressive 14-of-15.
The Beavers again faced a five-point deficit with 3:39 before halftime, but the home team rallied to take a one-point lead into the locker room. Brent Farley started the run with a layup, and it continued when Nick Wilson (Continental) converted a layup from Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville). The half was capped by a Nate Heckelman (Norwalk) layup with 29 seconds left, giving Bluffton a 35-34 lead.
To start the second half, Bluffton was the team that looked poised to pull away. Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) hit a layup for two of his team-high 15 points, giving the Beavers a 41-37 lead. Taylor followed that possession with a hoop and harm for the 44-37 lead with 16:12 left in the contest.
With just over 12 minutes left in the game, the Beavers' lead ballooned to eight (52-44) as Brent Farley got to the rack. Bluffton's lead was 10 with just over seven minutes left when Aaron Taylor hit a deep three as the 35-second clock expired.
By the 4:50 mark, however, Bluffton's lead had almost disappeared to just two points (64-62) following a Mike Floyd three-pointer. With 1:57 to play Colt Cunningham stepped to the line and hit two free throws, putting Bluffton up 68-64. Those were the final points Bluffton was able to muster as Defiance ended the contest on a 7-0 run for the 71-68 victory.
Bluffton was down by a point with 9.6 ticks remaining when the Jackets got a hand on the home team's inbounds pass and Nick Sales went coast-to-coast for a game-clinching layup. Taylor's three at the buzzer bounded out of the rim and the Jackets improved to 6-2 in the HCAC, keeping pace with Transy, Franklin and Anderson, who all won on Wednesday night.
Bluffton had two players score in double figures, as Aaron Taylor led the home team with 15 and fellow senior Josiah Stober scored 11. The Beavers worked the ball around well, finishing with assists on 16 of their 25 field goals. Colt Cunningham paced the home team with four dimes and Eichar tallied three assists.
Defiance was led in scoring by guard Mike Floyd who torched the nets for 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Bluffton executed its defensive game-plan to near perfection, limiting Floyd, who averages nearly eight assists per contest, to just two dimes, but he was able to get to the rim and make the Beavers pay for not helping on him.
The Beavers won the turnover game with just 12 miscues compared to Defiance's 17, but Bluffton had two costly turnovers in the last 19 seconds of the game that led to four points for the Yellow Jackets. Defiance dominated on the boards, collecting 30 rebounds to just 17 for Bluffton.
The Beavers will next be in action at home on January 24 when they host HCAC foe Rose-Hulman on Hall of Fame Day. The tip is scheduled for 3 p.m. following the women's contest with the Engineers.