2012-13 Men's Basketball
Bluffton 75, Defiance 55
Bluffton squashes Yellow Jackets 75-55 on Senior Night
February 13, 2013
By: Evan Skilliter, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Beavers welcomed Defiance College to the Sommer Center on Wednesday, Feb. 13, desperately needing a win to keep their conference tournament hopes alive. A dominating inside presence coupled with a career-high 12 assists from Ryan Ebbeskotte (Ft. Jennings/Delphos Jefferson) sent the Beavers to a 75-55 victory over their biggest rivals on Senior Night, helping seniors Tyler Neal (Bluffton), Josh Fisher (Rockford/Parkway) and Matt Gerdeman (Delphos/Jefferson) end their home career in victorious fashion.
Bluffton stormed out to a 7-0 lead after a quick four in a row from Will Pope (Somerville/Preble Shawnee) and a three-pointer from Neal got the full capacity crowd fired up in a hurry. After a Mason Roth three-pointer got Defiance on the scoreboard, Neal hit another trey to put the Beavers up, 10-3.
After four straight Defiance points made the score 10-7, freshman Thayne Recker (Arlington) converted a hoop and harm for a six-point lead. On the next possession, Recker put the Beavers up 15-7 with another layup.
The home team continued its outstanding play and extended the lead to as many as 15 points on two more Recker free throws at the 8:32 mark in the first half. However, an 11-3 Defiance run reduced the visitor's deficit to seven with 5:09 on the clock.
Pope ended the run after Neal found him in the paint for two, and the Beavers outscored the Jackets 7-4 the rest of the way, ending the first period with a 41-29 lead.
Bluffton picked up where it left off in the second as Neal drained his third trifecta of the game, putting the Beavers up 44-29 early in the final stanza. With a big lead and the raucous Sommer Center crowd behind them, the Beavers continued to push, spreading the point differential to 21 points at the 12:54 mark after a Dustin Kinn (Alvada/New Reigle) chip shot.
A deep Defiance three from Drew Frizell reduced the lead to 12 with 9:55 remaining, but that's as close as the Jackets would get as the Beavers pushed the lead to 22 points before capping the delightful 20-point win, 75-55.
Pope finished the night as the game's leading scoring, tallying 21 points and eight rebounds while hitting 8-of-9 from the field. Recker and Kinn, Pope's sidekicks down low, finished with 11 and 10 points, as well as six and five rebounds, respectively. Neal chipped in with nine points, three assists and two rebounds, playing in his final home game for his father, Coach Neal. Freshman Billy Taflinger (Lima/Central Catholic) added eight points and four rebounds. Fisher, who did the job defensively on Defiance standout Logan Wolfrum, and Nate Chambers (Miamisburg) each countered with seven points. Ebbeskotte's career-high 12 assists were just one off the school record of 13 held by Marcus Bixler.
The Beavers as a team turned in an impressive 52 percent shooting night from the field (26-of-50), 5-of-15 from behind the arc, and 18-of-23 (78.3 percent) at the charity stripe. The Beavers outrebounded the Jackets, 34-23, but committed one more turnover (14-13).
Bluffton will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 16, in Lexington, Ky., when the men take on Transylvania. The contest is slated for 4 p.m. A Bluffton win and Mount St. Joseph loss to Anderson would give the Beavers a berth in the Heartland Conference tournament next week.