bc vs. manchester
Bluffton College vs.Wednesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m.
|Correction: in the PDF Gameday it lists Saturday's game at Hanover as starting at 1 p.m., which is incorrect. Tip-off is at 3 p.m., or 30 minutes after the women's game ends.|
Setting the scene
This is the first league game of the season for both teams after competing at non-conference tournaments the last two weekends. Both teams will take on two other HCAC members in December in addition to several non-league games. Bluffton has won two of their last three games, while Manchester has won three straight games. These two teams will meet again on Wed., Jan. 29 in North Manchester, Ind.
Manchester leads the all-time series 39-27, which dates back to the 1920-21 season. Manchester won both games over Bluffton last season, including a 99-93 win over the Beavers here in Founders Hall on January 23. Two seasons ago, however, BC knocked off Manchester 94-87 here in Bluffton, which snapped a nine-game losing skid to the Spartans.
Bluffton is led by 14th-year head coach Guy Neal, who ranks fourth on the BC all-time wins list with 137 victories. See pages 6 and 7 in the media guide for more information on Neal. Manchester is led by 5th-year head coach Jamie Matthews, who owns an overall record of 78-34. As a player at Ball State University he helped guide the Cardinals to the NCAA tournament as a senior in 1989. These two men have both been named the HCAC coach-of-the-year during their tenure. Neal earned the honor after the 2000-01 season, while Matthews was the recipient following the 1998-99 season.
Bluffton dropped their first two games of the season at the North Central Tip-off Tournament in Illinois, but the Beavers are 2-1 since then to improve their overall record to 2-3 on the season. BC had won two straight games before falling to Heidelberg 84-81 here on Saturday in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. Manchester, meanwhile, dropped their first game of the season 78-75 against Goshen at the Wilmington Classic, but the Spartans are 3-0 since then to improve their record to 3-1 overall.
Bluffton is coming off an 84-81 loss to Heidelberg College here Saturday in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. Bluffton shot an impressive 10-for-18 from 3-point range, but Heidelberg's 40-26 scoring edge in the paint and 34-29 rebounding edge made the difference. Bluffton led 39-38 with 1:22 left before halftime, but Heidelberg took a 42-39 lead at halftime and did not trail at any point in the second half. Bluffton never trailed by more than eight points in the game and Mike Leimeister's 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the game brought BC within three points at 84-81. A 3-point attempt from Derek DeNero from the right wing as the final horn sounded would have tied the score, but the shot did not fall.
Manchester is coming off two wins over the weekend at the Fontbonne University Basketball Classic in St. Louis. In opening round action Friday, Manchester defeated Maryville 88-79, then beat tournament host Fontbonne 88-81.
Senior Mike Leimeister, a first-team All-HCAC selection last season, is leading the Beavers so far this season with 20.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He is shooting .577 from the field, which is second on the team to junior Brad Boyles' mark of .639 (3rd in HCAC). Leimeister's scoring total ranks 2nd in the HCAC and his rebounding total ranks 7th. Senior Marcus Bixler leads the HCAC in steals (2.8 spg) and he ranks 2nd in assists (4.8 apg). Senior Derek DeNero ranks 2nd in the HCAC in steals (2.6 spg), which is second only to Bixler. DeNero (14.4 ppg) and Boyles (11.8 ppg) round out Bluffton's double-digit scorers, while Bixler and sophomore Bryce Beilharz are both averaging eight points per game.
Manchester has just one senior this season, Rex Reimer, and has 12 players that all average over 10 minutes of playing time per game. The Spartans start three sophomores, a junior and a freshman and are led in scoring and rebounding by a sophomore that comes off the bench in Devin Price-Presslaff (14.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg). That's nothing new to Spartan fans, however, as last year's leading scorer, senior Alan Mayes (12.7 ppg), started just one game all season. Price-Presslaff's rebounding total ranks 5th in the HCAC and he is shooting 57% from the field. Manchester's returning starters include sophomore guard Julian Guess (10.5 ppg) and Nathan Curtis (5.3 ppg). Reimer and sophomore Jon Cain, who both started the majority of the games last season, now come off the bench.
These two teams are near mirror images of each other in the scoring department, but after that the differences emerge. Bluffton is shooting at a higher percentage from the field (.509 FG% ranks 2nd in HCAC), but Manchester has made more shots, including from 3-point range and the free throw line. The Spartans also hold the edge in rebounding behind three 6-8 players (Henderson, Price-Presslaff and Berger), as MC is out-rebounding their opponents by seven boards per game. BC is being out-rebounded by 0.2 boards per game, but has more steals than their opponents (50 to 43) and has nearly made more free throws (77) than their opponents have attempted (88).
HCAC p-o-w honorable mentions
Last week's Heartland Conference player-of-the-week honor went Hanover's Derrick Clevenger, while Bluffton's Derek DeNero and Manchester's Devin Price-Presslaff were both honorable mention. DeNero was named to the all-tournament team of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament and led Bluffton to a 2-1 record last week with a combined total of 37 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists and five steals.
3-point streak continues
Bluffton has made at least one 3-point field goal in 247 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 but won anyway 64-57.
Around the HCAC
Also on the HCAC schedule Wednesday night, Anderson hosts Defiance and Franklin hosts Mount St. Joseph, while Transylvania travels to Thomas More in a non-conference game. Tuesday night Hanover visited Earlham in non-league action. Saturday, Bluffton will travel to Hanover and Manchester will travel to Thomas More.
After the game
Box scores from the game will be available at the scorer's table 10 minutes after the game.