bc vs. hc
Bluffton aiming for repeat of 2001 win vs. #14 Hanover SaturdayGame date: Saturday, January 25
Game time: 3 p.m.
Setting the scene
Bluffton is coming off a huge win over Defiance here Wednesday night and is aiming for their third HCAC win in a row. A BC win would be its first victory over a ranked team since the Beavers upset Hanover here on January 13, 2001. The 14th-ranked Panthers are coming off a big win of their own with an 85-83 victory over Anderson Wednesday night, which gave AU its first HCAC loss of the season. These two teams met at Hanover on Dec. 7, with the Panthers taking an 88-70 win. Beginning with Saturday's game, Bluffton has already faced each of its eight remaining opponents this season.
The series (Hanover leads 41-11)
Hanover leads the all-time series over Bluffton 41-11, which began back in 1971. Two years ago Bluffton swept the season series against Hanover, but the Panthers have won all three meetings since then.
Bluffton is led by 14th-year head coach Guy Neal, who ranks second on the BC all-time wins list with 143 victories. Neal is closing in on leader Glenn Snyder, who won 150 games. Neal's six winning seasons are second only to Hall of Famer A.C. Burcky's total of seven. Hanover is led by Dr. Michael Beitzel, who is in his 15th year at HC and has compiled an overall record of 275-138. He is in his 23rd year as a collegiate head coach and on Wednesday night he won his 400th game.
Bluffton is now 8-9 overall and 2-5 in the HCAC after winning their last two league games and six of their last nine games overall. Hanover won its first 11 games of the season before falling at Franklin on Jan. 4. Since then, the Panthers have won five straight games to improve their record to 16-1 overall and 6-1 in the HCAC.
Bluffton is coming off a huge 97-93 win over Defiance here Wed. night in front of a season high 1,193 fans. Senior Mike Leimeister scored a career high 42 points and set a school record with 20 made free throws. He added 10 rebounds gave him his seventh career double-double and he also added a career-high four assists. Defiance shot 61.7% from the field but Bluffton converted on 30-of-36 free throws and out-rebounded Defiance 34-26. Three other BC players scored in double-figures, led by 18 from junior Brad Boyles, 13 from senior Derek DeNero and a career-high 11 points from freshman Simeon Talley. DeNero collected a career-high six steals and Talley's point total was a new career-high. Hanover, meanwhile, topped Anderson Wed. night 85-83 win as junior Thad McCracken's 12-footer at the buzzer handed the Ravens their first HCAC loss of the season. Freshman Ben Lye came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points, while sophomore Ryan Lanning added 19. That duo combined for 17 rebounds, as well, as Hanover shot 59% from the floor.
Earlier this season
Mike Leimeister scored a game high 36 points but Bluffton fell 88-70 at Hanover on Dec. 7. Leimeister was unstoppable in the first half as he was 10-for-13 from the floor, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and 3-for-3 from the free throw line for 25 points. Marcus Bixler added nine points and junior Brad Boyles chipped in eight. Bluffton got behind early 7-0 but came back to trail by four points at 10-6 after four minutes had gone by in the game. At that point, however, the undefeated Panthers went on a 22-3 scoring run to go up 32-9 with 9:14 left before halftime.
Hanover won both meetings with Bluffton last season, winning 74-51 in Bluffton on Dec. 1 and 95-50 at Hanover on Jan. 19. In both contests the Panthers dominated the boards and the shooting percentage and held Leimeister, who averaged 20.0 points per game against every other HCAC team, to a combined six points in both games.
Leimeister another POTW honor
On Monday senior Mike Leimeister picked up his second HCAC player-of-the-week honor of the season, which was the fourth of his career. In two games last week he combined for 47 points and 13 rebounds.
Senior Mike Leimeister's 24.2 points per game is tops in the HCAC this season and he ranks 2nd in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and 6th in field goal percentage (.558). Two other BC players are averaging in double figures, including senior Derek DeNero (11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 24 3-pointers) and junior Brad Boyles (10.5 ppg), who ranks 2nd in the HCAC in field goal percentage (.623). Senior Marcus Bixler (9.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg) ranks 3rd in the HCAC in assists (4.5 apg), 4th in steals (1.7 spg) and 8th in 3-point shooting percentage (.417). In addition to the upperclassmen, three BC freshman are stepping it up lately. Scott Bergman has started the last two games and is averaging 10.3 points in the last four games. Eric Sweet (4.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg) has started in three of the last four games, and Simeon Talley is coming off career highs for points (11) and minutes played (18) against Defiance Wed. night.
The Panthers have five players averaging in double figures this season, led by their only senior Derrick Clevenger (14.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 50 3-ptrs). A pair of sophomore are close behind him in Ryan Lanning (14.1, 6.7 rpg, .531 fg%) and Matt Moore (14.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 26 3-ptrs). Junior Thad McCracken (11.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 39 3-ptrs) and sophomore Tommy Dennis (7.6 ppg, .606 fg%) round out the starting five, while freshman Ben Lye (10.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, .616 fg%) is the fifth Panther in double figures and the first player off the bench.
These teams are the two best shooting clubs in the HCAC, as Hanover ranks 1st at .506 and Bluffton is 2nd at .488. That is also reflected in their 3-point shooting, as HC is again 1st (.376) and BC is 3rd (.362). Hanover dominates almost every other league stat, as well, ranking 1st in scoring margin (+16.1), scoring defense (67.1 ppg allowed), field goal percentage defense (.416) and rebounding margin (+6.6).
3-point streak continues
Bluffton has made at least one 3-point field goal in 259 consecutive games. The last time BC didn't make a 3-pointer was Jan. 6, 1993 when BC was 0-1 from behind the arc against Adrian in Founders Hall but won anyway 64-57.
Record in Founders Hall
Bluffton is now 288-264 (.522) in Founders Hall since the facility opened in 1952. BC is 63-46 (.577) in Founders Hall since the start of the 1993-94 season.
Around the HCAC
Elsewhere around the HCAC Saturday, Anderson hosts Mount St. Joseph and Franklin hosts Defiance. In non-league action, Manchester hosts Thomas More.