2013-14 Women's Basketball
Transylvania 85, Bluffton 73
By: Blade Tackett, sports information assistant
February 22, 2014
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women’s basketball team lost their final regular season contest, 85-73, Saturday afternoon in Sommer Center against Heartland Conference champion Transylvania. The Beavers were hoping for a big win to carry them into their first HCAC tournament game next Friday, Feb. 28 against Manchester University in Lexington, Ky. Although they fell just short, the Beavers proved they could go toe-to-toe with the 23-2 Pioneers who capped off a sparkling 17-1 Heartland Conference campaign.
The visitors came out ready to play as they bolted to an early lead behind Alex Botkin who scored seven of Transy’s first 10 points just 3:15 into the contest. Bluffton held its ground, however, as sophomore Taylor Knight (Perrysburg) hit two big threes that put them back into the game. As Knight went to the bench with her second foul a couple minutes later, Bluffton turned to its three leading scorers, Brooke Ruffer (Stryker), Kaitlyn Pennekamp (Hamilton/Ross), and Taylor Whitaker (Mansfield/Lexington) to keep up with the potent Pioneers.
Just as the Transy contingent appeared to have a comfortable lead, one of the three sophomores scored a couple baskets to get them within arm's length. As they found themselves down 10 at the ten-minute mark, a Bluffton run over the next 2:25 sparked by a drive and dish from Whitaker to Ruffer brought them back to within two points. The final minutes of the first half went back and forth as a jumper from junior Belicia Cooper (Painesville/Riverside) put the Beavers up three with 1:35 left. Unfortunately, Transy ended the frame with two buckets and a 46-45 lead.
Bluffton was able to hang around the first 10 minutes of the second half, down only five midway through the period. However, the rest of the way was all Transy as they slowly extended their lead to put the game out of reach. The Pioneers were able to convert easy buckets as Bluffton tried to force them into quick turnovers. When the horn sounded, Transy came out on top by an 85-73 final.
Brooke Ruffer led the Beavers, recording her 16th career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Pennekamp had 16, Whitaker added 14, and Knight finished with 10 despite playing just 17 minutes due to foul trouble. Bluffton shot 28-of-71 (39.4 percent) from the field, going 6-for-21 from deep and 11-of-14 from the stripe. The Beavers recorded 31 rebounds, 15 assists, four blocks, and 16 steals. They finished the regular season 14-11 and 10-8 in the HCAC.
Transylvania was led by Alex Botkin and Katelyn Smith with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Four other Pioneers also scored in double digits. The visitors totaled 31-of-62 (50 percent) from the floor, going only 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from distance, but 22-of-28 (78.6 percent) from the free throw line. They outrebounded Bluffton with a total of 45 boards to go along with 22 assists, 23 turnovers and nine steals. Transy finished with a 23-2 record and 17-1 in the HCAC.
Transylvania will host all five games in the tournament next week in Lexington. Bluffton earned the #4 seed and will meet Manchester University on Friday evening thanks to Rose-Hulman's victory over Mount St. Joseph on Saturday afternoon. The Beavers are slated to tip off at 6 p.m. in the Beck Center when they make their first trip to the HCAC tournament since 2008-09. A win over the Spartans would propel Bluffton into a matchup with these same Pioneers on Saturday, March 1 at 3 p.m.