Bluffton 82, Westminster 79
Beavers overcome 28 turnovers for 82-79 win at Westminster
November 16, 2007
NEW WILMINGTON, Penn. - The Bluffton University men's basketball team overcame 28 turnovers, 17 of them in the second half, to post an 82-79 victory over tournament host Westminster College on Friday, November 16, 2007. The Titans qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07 after posting an 18-9 record overall, including a conference-best 10-2 mark in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
Senior P.J Junger (Loveland/Archbishop Moeller) opened the game with a layup and followed a Nick Wilson (Continental/Continental) bucket with a triple as Bluffton took a 7-0 lead just 1:20 into the first half. The Beavers took advantage of a struggling Titan offense as Aaron Taylor (Antwerp/Antwerp) and Jordan Pothast (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf) found their stroke for a 20-6 Bluffton lead at the 13:49 mark.
Junior sharpshooter Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) answered Brady Sherrieb's three-pointer with a triple of his own and following a Taylor hoop, Cunningham knocked down a jumper for a 29-13 advantage with six minutes to play in the first period.
Westminster trimmed the gap to eight points late in the half, but Wilson sank a pair from the charity stripe and sophomore Josh Eichar (North Baltimore/North Baltimore) hit from downtown as the horn sounded, pushing Bluffton's lead to 38-26 at the break.
The Titans began to chip away at the Bluffton lead early in the second half as Craig Hannon, who was held scoreless in the first half, went to work. He hit consecutive shots and Westminster dialed up its pressure defensively, forcing Bluffton into seven miscues during the first four minutes of period two.
A Cunningham layup and three Pothast free throws slowed the Titans, but the home team used its second half momentum to overtake the Beavers 61-59 when Hannon capped a 4-of-4 three-point barrage by the Titans midway through the second half.
David Richards hit 2-of-4 freebies to give Westminster its largest lead of the night, 69-65, with just under five minutes on the clock.
Wilson knocked down a pair at the stripe and senior Nate Overmyer (Payne/Wayne Trace) followed a Cunningham layin with a jumper of his own, making the score 71-70 at the 2:45 mark. The two teams exchanged leads until Juenger put Bluffton up for good with 1:07 to play.
Overmyer and Eichar combined to go 7-of-8 at the line down the stretch, but the Beaver fans had to hold their breath until the buzzer sounded as Hannon's triple attempt to tie the game was just off the mark.
Cunningham led the Beavers with 18 points despite hitting just 1-of-8 attempts from three-point range. Overmyer finished with 14 points, including a 5-of-6 night at the free throw line. Juenger and Wilson chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. They also paced the Beavers on the glass with nine rebounds apiece. Taylor and Eichar pulled down five boards each. Richards and Hannon paced the Titans with 20 and 18 points, respectively.
Both teams struggled from the field and with turnovers, but Bluffton used a commanding 54-to-32 edge on the boards to pick up the 82-79 victory in the 2007-08 season opener.
The Beavers will take on Carthage in the finals of the Buzz Ridl Classic on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 4 p.m.