Franklin 86, Bluffton 66 (HCAC semifinals from Transylvania)
Beavers fall to Franklin College 86-66 in HCAC semifinals at Transylvania
By Bill Hanefeld Jr., sports information director
February 24, 2006
LEXINGTON, Ky. -The Bluffton University men's basketball team had its season halted abruptly by the Franklin College Grizzlies in the semifinals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament at Transylvania by a final score of 86-66. The Beavers were only one victory shy of the school record which was set by the 1984-85 squad that finished its season 18-10. A 21-6 start by the Grizzlies proved to be the difference as the Beavers struggled to score early in dropping to 17-10, 6-8 in the HCAC for the season.
Franklin jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Scott Bergman (Elmore/Woodmore) put the Beavers on the board following a Bluffton timeout at the 17:17 mark of the first half. The Beavers remained cold as the Grizzlies went on a 14-4 run over the next four minutes to take a commanding 21-6 lead less than seven minutes into the contest. Bluffton responded by driving to the basket and forcing contact on the offensive end. A pair of free throws by both Eric Schwieterman (St. Henry/St. Henry) and Eric Sweet (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf) and a hoop by Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) trimmed the gap to nine points at the 10:44 mark, but Josh Finke and Brandon Ray countered with baskets to push the lead back to 13 points. When Bergman hit his second basket of the half with seven minutes to play in the opening stanza, the Beavers again trailed by only nine points, 27-19. Franklin finished the half with a 9-6 run to take a 36-24 lead at the break.
Franklin used four 3-point plays during the first six minutes of the second half to put the game on ice. The Grizzlies held the Beavers to six points, including a pair of Sweet baskets, while opening up a 54-30 lead with 13:40 to play in the game. The Beavers climbed on Scott Bergman's back as he unleashed a furious attempt to send the Beavers into the HCAC championship game. Bergman hit from long distance, slashed to the hoop, connected from the charity stripe and picked off Franklin passes as he scored 26 and fellow senior Eric Sweet, eight, to account for all of Bluffton's 34 points during the final 13 minutes of the game. Franklin always had an answer however, and the Grizzlies held on, 86-66, to move into the finals of the HCAC tournament.
For the game, the Beavers hit 24-47 from the field (51 percent), but Franklin hit an outstanding 58 percent (35-60) while collecting 13 offensive boards to only four for Bluffton. The Grizzlies knocked down 9-18 from outside the arc while limiting Bluffton to 3-12 on triples. Franklin dominated Bluffton on the glass, 34-21.
Scott Bergman ended his career as the third highest scorer all-time at Bluffton with 1,660 points, behind only legendary Pete DuMonte (2,416) and Clair Recker (1,667). He tallied 30 points, 26 in the second half, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in his final collegiate contest. Sweet finished the game with 18 points, five boards and two blocks. He became only the ninth member of the 1,000 point and 500 rebound club at Bluffton as he finished his career with 1,081 points and 568 rebounds.
Bluffton ended its season with a 17-10 record overall, 6-8 in the Heartland Conference, including its second straight trip to the HCAC semifinals. The Beavers will say goodbye to seniors Scott Bergman, Eric Sweet, Joe Duzan and Darren Clark who have all been in the Bluffton men's basketball program for four years.