2013-14 Women's Basketball
Manchester 65, Bluffton 62
February 28, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Bluffton University women's basketball team had a Heartland Conference semi-final berth in its sights with a 45-33 lead and 15:44 on the clock before #5 seed Manchester University turned up the defensive pressure and rallied for a 65-62 victory on Friday, Feb. 28. The Beavers ended their season with a 14-12 mark, while Manchester improved to 14-12 and earned a matchup with host and regular season Heartland Conference champion Transylvania at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 in the Beck Center.
Bluffton was clinging to a five-point lead early in period two when a 9-2 spurt over a span of less than three minutes made the score 45-33 at the 15:44 mark. Sophomore sensation Brooke Ruffer (Stryker) kicked off the run with a triple and then she scored four straight points as the Beavers appeared to have the game in hand.
The home team on the scoreboard misfired on its next two trips down the floor as Manchester drilled three straight buckets to cut the lead in half. A Justine Kruger jumper made it a three-point game with 10:52 to play. Kruger continued to give Bluffton fits as she hit two more deuces to pull the Spartans within a point.
When Kruger dialed long distance with 6:36 to play, she gave Manchester its first lead of the night (55-54). Taylor Knight (Perrysburg) hit back-to-back jumpers and Ruffer added Bluffton's final six points but the Spartans held on for the 65-62 win when Kruger got to the rack with 16 ticks left.
The Beavers scored the first six points of the game and went up 10-2 less than four minutes in thanks to hoops by freshman Rachel Beining (Ottoville) and Knight and six counters by Ruffer. Manchester pulled within two points midway through the opening stanza and jumpers by Jocelyn Hamilton and Erynn Meikeljohn made it a one-point game before Knight and Taylor Whitaker (Mansfield/Lexington) combined for the final six markers of the half as Bluffton took a 34-27 lead at the break.
Ruffer continued her dominating play with a career-high 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. She added 11 boards for her 16th career double-double, including her sixth in Bluffton's last eight games. In addition, Ruffer went 7-of-8 at the line, 2-of-4 from distance and she came up with five thefts which equaled her career high. Sophomores Kaitlyn Pennekamp (Hamilton/Ross) and Knight chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Knight was a red-hot 5-of-7 from the field.
Bluffton hit 24-of-53 from the field (45.3 percent) but just 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from distance. The Beavers were outstanding at the line, draining 11-of-12 (91.7 percent). Bluffton turned it over just 12 times, but Manchester pulled down 10 more boards (35-25), including a 10-5 edge on the offensive glass.
An outstanding season came to an end with the loss to Manchester. The Beavers will return home for the start of spring break before using the off-season to build on Bluffton's first trip to the Heartland Conference tournament since 2008-09. The All-HCAC awards are slated to be released next Wednesday, March 5.