Bluffton 96, Franklin 90
Beavers open HCAC action with 96-90 win at Franklin
December 1, 2007
FRANKLIN, Ind. - The Bluffton University men's basketball team opened up a 13-point halftime advantage and held on to take down Franklin College, the pre-season favorite to win the Heartland Conference, on the road by a final score of 96-90 in the HCAC opener for both teams. Bluffton improved to 4-2 while the Grizzlies dropped to 2-3 for the season.
Sophomore point guard Zack Kraus (Findlay/Findlay) got Bluffton on the scoreboard early, hitting 4-of-4 at the line and knocking down a jumper on the Beavers' first possession of the game. His quick six powered Bluffton to an 8-5 lead three minutes into the contest. Senior forward P.J. Juenger (Loveland/Archbishop Moeller), who drilled 9-of-10 shots from the field, buried a triple and Nate Overmyer (Haviland/Wayne Trace) followed with back-to-back hoops for a 15-9 Bluffton lead at the 14:15 mark of the first half.
Sophomore Josh Eichar (North Baltimore/North Baltimore) put a Bluffton miss back up and in following another Juenger trifecta and old-fashioned three-point play as the Beavers opened up a 34-22 margin with 8:25 on the clock.
Seven Dustin Marshall points and a Sean Drake three-pointer helped Franklin cut the deficit to seven points, 41-34, with just under six minutes to play in the half. The Grizzlies were within six points late in opening stanza when junior post Nick Wilson (Continental/Continental) stepped outside and drained consecutive triples as Bluffton took a 55-42 lead at the break.
Kraus opened the second half much like he did the first, dropping in five points before junior Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) picked off an errant Franklin pass and took it to the hoop for a 64-50 Bluffton lead less than four minutes after the break.
Junior Aaron Taylor (Antwerp/Antwerp) got into the action following Juenger's third three-pointer of the night when he hit from in close after a Bluffton timeout. The Beavers were able to maintain a double-digit lead over the home team throughout the middle stages of half two as Cunningham and Overmyer dialed long distance at the seven-minute mark of the final period.
Franklin clawed its way back into the game as Marty Young dropped in seven points to cut the Bluffton lead to 85-82 with just under two minutes to play.
The Beavers sealed their Heartland Conference opener by going 13-of-14 at the charity stripe during the final four minutes of the game for a 96-90 victory over the Grizzlies at the Spurlock Center in Franklin, Indiana.
Leading the Beavers with a career-high 22 points on an outstanding 9-of-10 shooting performance from the field, including 3-for-3 on triples, was P.J. Juenger. Also lighting it up with a perfect shooting performance for the visitors was Cunningham who was 6-of-6 from the field and 8-of-8 at the line for 21 points. Overmyer and Kraus hit for 17 and 13, respectively. Eichar and Wilson chipped with eight points apiece and Taylor added seven. Taylor finished with career highs in assists and rebounds, tallying six each. Eichar and Overmyer both dished out four assists in the victory over the Grizzlies.
Bluffton scorched the nets with a 65.9 percent shooting night from the field (29-of-44). The Beavers buried 8-for-12 from outside the arc (66.7 percent) and won the game by going 30-of-35 at the free throw line (85.7 percent). The battle on the boards was nearly even, 27 for Franklin to 26 for the Beavers. Bluffton committed 20 turnovers while the Grizzlies finished with only 12 miscues.
Pacing the Franklin attack was Dustin Marshall who hit 7-of-14 shots for 19 points. Marty Young and Jace Redman added 18 points each for the Grizzlies.
The Beavers will return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 5, when they host HCAC rival Defiance College in another clash for bragging rights in Northwest Ohio. The contest is slated to tip at 7:30 p.m. in Founders Hall.