Bluffton 75, Mt. St. Joseph 67
Beavers complete sweep of MSJ with 75-67 win over Lions
By: Evan Miller, sports information assistant
February 20, 2008
CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team went to the road and picked up a hard fought 75-67 win at Mt. St. Joseph, raising the Beavers record to 13-11 overall, and 7-8 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The loss dropped the Lions to 9-15 and 3-12 in the HCAC.
The Lions got a quick layup, but Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian), who hit early and often, answered with a three-pointer for a 3-2 Bluffton lead.
Cunningham hit another three-ball minutes later to give Bluffton a four-point lead, 8-4, with 15:39 left in the first half. At the 13:23 mark, Bluffton's Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) added a pair of free throws, erasing a one-point deficit and giving Bluffton a slim one-point lead, 14-13.
A three-pointer by Nate Overmyer (Payne/Wayne Trace) with an assist from P.J. Juenger (Loveland/Archbishop Moeller) helped Bluffton to a four-point advantage, 22-18. Chris Cioffi responded with a three-pointer on Mt. St. Joe's next possession.
Colt Cunningham continued to come up big for Bluffton, dialing long distance to make the score 25-21 in favor of the Beavers with just under ten minutes in the first half. A three-pointer by Michael Eirons pulled the Lions back within one point, 25-24.
Sophomore Zack Kraus (Findlay/Findlay) caught the hot hand to help protect the Beavers lead, connecting for a layup and jump shot on consecutive possessions, helping Bluffton open up a 29-24 edge.
The Lions erased a seven-point Bluffton lead in less than two minutes to knot the score at 31 on a Kyle McCord layup with 4:36 to play in the half. Bluffton finished the half on an 8-2 run, capped off with a free throw by Colt Cunningham which made the score 39-33 in favor of the visitors at the half.
The Lions scored first in the second half, thanks to a Michael Eirons layup at the 18:44 mark, but the Beavers did a good job of protecting their lead, not surrendering it for the entire second half.
After the Lions cut the deficit to three, Colt Cunningham buried another trifecta, making Bluffton's lead 42-36.
Travis Hoffman completed an old-fashioned three-point play to pull the Lions even with Bluffton at 46 with 11:29 left in the game.
Freshman Rob Luderman (Defiance/Ayersville) contributed four key points for Bluffton down the stretch. He pushed Bluffton's lead back up to three on a layup, and added a pair of free throws on Bluffton's next possession, making the score 57-50 at the 7:23 mark.
The Lions found themselves down only two with three minutes left, 66-64, following a pair of Michael Eirons' free throws. Zack Kraus split a pair of charity tosses on Bluffton's next possession, but he made up for the miss with a jumper, giving the Beavers a 69-64 lead at the 2:07 mark.
Bluffton did not let the Lions any closer than four points during the final minutes as Colt Cunningham sealed the victory with a pair of freebies with 35 ticks left. Aaron Taylor (Antwerp/Antwerp) picked up a steal and MSJ let the Beavers run out the clock for a quality road win.
Colt Cunningham led the way for Bluffton in the scoring department, knocking down 5-of-8 triples and 9-of-12 at the foul line for a game-high 26 points. He also added a team-high three steals. P.J. Juenger pulled down a team-high seven boards.
The Beavers connected on 25-of-57 field goal attempts (43.9 percent), while the Lions hit 20-of-45 shots for 44.4 percent. From outside the arc, Bluffton finished 8-of-20 (40 percent) to MSJ's 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) Both teams got to the free throw line often as Bluffton made 17-of-25 freebies (68 percent) and the Lions were 22-of-33 (66.7 percent). The Beavers turned the ball over 15 times, five less miscues than the home team committed.
Michael Romes paced the Lions in scoring, contributing 16 points in the loss. Michael Eirons led the Mount in rebounding with eight.
The Bluffton University men's basketball team will return to action when the Beavers travel to Transylvania for the final regular-season contest on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008, with a berth in the upcoming HCAC tournament still a possibility. Tip time is slated for 3 p.m.