Hanover 82, Bluffton 68
Beavers drop regular-season finale at Hanover, 82-68
February 17, 2007
HANOVER, Ind. - Needing only a tie with Franklin to host the Heartland Conference tournament next week, the Beavers came up just short at Hanover College on Saturday, February 17, 2007. The Panthers took advantage of a lopsided number of whistles that went against the Beavers to pull out an 82-68 victory over the Beavers who took 18 shots from the foul line compared to 34 for the home team. With the loss, Bluffton finished the regular season 18-7 overall and 10-6 in the HCAC. The Beavers will travel to Franklin on Friday, February 23, to face Transylvania which finished in a tie with the Beavers for second place in the conference. The Grizzlies will host Defiance College in the other semi-final, with the winners meeting on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m.
Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) gave the Beavers what turned out to be their only lead of the game, 2-0, when he knocked down a jumper less than 30 seconds in. Following a Brock Dawson three-point play and a pair of Robby Brown free throws, Cunningham sank a couple freebies to pull the Beavers within one, 5-4.
A Zack Kraus (Findlay/Findlay) layup was the only basket the Beavers scored over the next four minutes as the Panthers used a 14-2 run to take a 19-6 lead with 13:28 to play in the opening half.
Junior Nate Overmyer (Payne/Wayne Trace) hit from downtown and Mike Anthony (Ohio City/Delphos St. John's) scored five points as the Beavers trimmed the deficit to six points, 28-22, with just under five minutes to go in the half.
Anthony and Aaron Taylor (Antwerp/Antwerp) both sank a pair of throws from the line to again cut the Panthers' lead to five points late in the first period, but Eric Parker found Marc O'Leary open under the hoop to give Hanover a 38-31 lead at the break.
To open the second half, Anthony hit from long range and Eric Schwieterman (St. Henry/St. Henry) knocked down both of his attempts from the foul line to make the score 38-36 in favor of Hanover.
The Panthers buried three consecutive triples on their way to a 49-40 lead at the 14-minute mark before the Beavers outside shooters caught fire as well.
Cunningham sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around a Kraus layup, cutting the Hanover lead to one point with 11:28 to play in the game.
Sophomore center Josiah Stober (Spencerville/Spencerville) stepped outside and Cunningham buried his third trifecta in less than six minutes to keep the Beavers within striking range, 60-56, with 7:39 to play.
Ten fouls called against the Beavers over the last seven minutes of the game ended any chance of a Bluffton regular season championship as Hanover hit 15-of-18 free throws during that stretch to pull out the 82-68 victory, sending the HCAC tournament to Franklin College next weekend.
The Panthers were 23-of-44 from the field (52 percent), including 8-of-16 from downtown (50 percent). Bluffton hit 22-of-53 from the field (41.5 percent). Both teams took care of the ball with Bluffton committing nine turnovers to only five miscues for the Panthers. The difference in the game was at the charity stripe. The Beavers were 16-of-18 for 89 percent, however, Hanover went to the line 34 times, making 28 for 82 percent.
Mike Anthony hit 5-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 at the line for a team-high 17 points. Colt Cunningham regained his stroke from the outside, draining three triples on the way to a 13-point night. Zack Kraus finished 4-of-7 for 10 points. Anthony, Overmyer and Aaron Taylor all grabbed five rebounds for the Beavers. Eric Schwieterman led Bluffton with five assists while Nick Wilson (Continental/Continental) dropped four dimes.
The Beavers will travel to Franklin College to face Transylvania University on Friday, February 23, 2007, in the semi-finals of the Heartland Conference tournament. Bluffton and Transy both finished with identical 10-6 records in the HCAC. The other semi-final matchup pits fourth-seeded Defiance (9-7 HCAC) against regular-season champion Franklin (11-5 HCAC). The semi-final victors will face off on Saturday, February 24, at Franklin.