Bluffton 82, Rose-Hulman 73
Offense rules in matchup of top Heartland Conference defenses
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
January 24, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton men's basketball team took the lead just six minutes into the first half and never looked back as the Beavers defeated HCAC foe Rose-Hulman, 82-73, on Saturday, January 24, 2009. With the Hall of Fame Day win, the Bluffton improved to 5-4 in the HCAC and 11-7 overall, while the Fightin' Engineers dropped to 2-7 in the conference and 7-11 this season.
Senior Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) sparked the Bluffton offense with a pair of layins on the Beavers' first two touches. The two teams battled back and forth for six minutes before a conventional three-point play from freshman guard Nick Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue) gave the Beavers a 10-9 lead. Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) knocked down his first two points with a layup at the 13-minute mark.
Just over a minute later, senior post Nick Wilson (Continental) drained a three-pointer to increase the Bluffton edge to seven points. At the 7:47 mark, Cunningham was fouled on his long distance triple from the left wing and he converted the freebie for a rare four-point trip. Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) drove to the hole for a deuce just seconds later.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) added two points to increase the margin to 12 points over the Engineers. A Lee basket from behind the arc and two Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) freebies helped the Beavers to a 40-28 lead at the half.
To start the second stanza, Eichar snatched the ball away from Lorenzo Rice and dribbled to the hoop for two. After a quick line change for the Beavers, the score hovered around five points between the two teams. At the 13:11 mark, Josiah Stober (Spencerville) connected with Wilson for a long-range bomb.
Minutes later, Cunningham hit a jumper and Wilson once again dialed long distance to increase the lead to eight points, 55-47. Taylor drove to the basket for two at the 8:41 mark and two minutes later the Bluffton scoring titans connected as Wilson buried his fourth triple of the night thanks to an assist from Cunningham.
At the 5:27 mark, Lee chipped in two more points for Bluffton before a Cunningham drive and an Eichar jumper bumped the lead to 11 points. Taylor, Eichar and Lee all contributed a pair of free throws in the last minute of the game, resulting in an 82-73 victory over the Engineers.
The Beavers were led by Colt Cunningham with 24 points, leaving him just three shy of career point 1,000. Nick Wilson equaled his three-point best with four triples for a total of 16 points in the contest. Aaron Taylor added 12 points and five rebounds while teammate Josh Eichar pulled down seven boards and picked up three steals.
The Engineers were paced by Daniel Lowers with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Jeff McCartney contributed 15 points, three boards, three steals and an assist. Spencer Harlan pulled down four rebounds and Terrae Hall swatted away three Bluffton shots.
Bluffton hit 23-of-42 (54.8 percent) from the field, while Rose-Hulman finished 26-of-60 (43.3 percent) in a matchup of the two top defenses in the Heartland Conference. The Beavers led at the charity stripe, 28-of-30 (93.3 percent), compared to 15-of-22 (68.2 percent) for the Engineers. Bluffton had two more triples (8-6) than Rose-Hulman while both teams tallied four blocks in the contest. Despite coughing it up 20 times, compared to just 12 miscues for RHIT, the home team finished with a commanding 34-24 edge on the glass.
The Beavers will return to action on Wednesday, January 28, when they travel to face HCAC rival Manchester College. The tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. in North Manchester, Ind.