Hanover 92, Bluffton 78
Hanover shoots the lights out in 92-78 win over Bluffton
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
February 7, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University basketball team controlled much of the first half but the Beavers couldn't find their swagger after the break as they dropped their second consecutive HCAC contest, this time to Hanover College, 92-78, on Saturday, February 7, 2009. Bluffton fell to .500 in the conference (6-6) and 12-9 overall. The Panthers improved to 7-14 on the season and 4-9 in the HCAC.
Before the clash between the Beavers and the Panthers, Bluffton University recognized men's basketball head coach Guy Neal for twenty years at the helm. He has the most victories of any Bluffton University men's basketball coach with a record 229 wins.
Senior Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) ignited the Bluffton offense with a three-pointer on the Beavers' second possession. Josiah Stober (Spencerville) connected with junior guard Josh Eichar (North Baltimore) for a trey of his own to put the Beavers up 6-0. Bluffton continued the trend with yet another Cunningham triple for an 11-4 lead at the 15:57 mark.
A quick 6-0 rally from the Panthers was cut short as Nick Wilson (Continental) and Cunningham each drained jumpers. After a Panther layup from Mitchell Meyer, Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) chipped in two points for the Beavers. With less than 10 minutes left in the first stanza, Eichar picked up a Hanover turnover and dished it to freshman Mychal Hill (London/Jonathan Alder) for a bucket from behind the arc.
At the 6:44 mark, Eichar once again came up with a steal and he drove to the basket for two more points. A minute later, freshman post Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) dropped in two points for Bluffton for a three point lead, 30-27. Taylor put together five straight points to tie the game at 35 before Hanover's Dan O'Leary drove to the basket, giving Hanover a 37-35 lead at the break.
Starting the second half, Stober connected with Cunningham for a drive and Cunningham
found Eichar for a layup before 45 seconds had run off the clock. Hanover took control
of the next four minutes as they went on a 13-4 spurt before Wilson slowed the onslaught
with a deuce. At the 11:08 mark, Farley got to the rack for two and Taylor drove in
for another basket just a minute later. Cunningham hit from distance to cut the Panthers'
lead to 11 points (66-55).
A three-point play from Wilson sliced the Hanover edge to just eight points at the seven-minute mark. The next trip down the court, Nate Heckleman (Norwalk/Norwalk) hit Wilson for a layup before Wilson stepped outside for a trifecta just minutes later. With the clock winding down, Cunningham refused to give in as he hit two more jumpers before Coach Neal emptied the bench.
Rob Luderman (Ayersville) stepped up to the line and converted a pair of freebies and Clayton Leimeister (Lima/Temple Christian) sank a trey with 37 ticks remaining. Two free throws from sophomore Cam Saylor (Belle Center/Benjamin Logan) capped the scoring as the Panthers knocked off the Beavers, 92-78.
Colt Cunningham paced the Beavers with 19 points, two rebounds and an assist. Nick Wilson contributed 18 points, three boards and two assists. Aaron Taylor added 14 points and three assists for Bluffton, while Josh Eichar finished with nine points, four rebounds, two assists and Bluffton's only steals of the contest. Brent Farley ripped down five boards and teammate Nate Heckleman had a team-high four assists.
Sophomore Mitchell Meyer led the Panthers with a double-double, including 26 points and 10 boards, and he swatted away one Bluffton shot. Jake Inman had 25 points on 5-of-6 shooting from deep and Dan O'Leary added 14 points and four rebounds for the Panthers. Dane Coats pulled down six boards and teammate Billy Pappas dished out eight assists in the victory.
Bluffton hit 28-of-52 (53.8 percent) from the field as Hanover was a red-hot 34-of-56 (60.7 percent). The Panthers drained two more treys (10-8) than the Beavers and grabbed three more rebounds (26-23) than the home team. Bluffton went 14-of-15 (93.3 percent) from the charity stripe while Hanover was 14-of-18 (77.8 percent) at the line.
The Bluffton University men's team will face HCAC rival Anderson on Wednesday, February 11. The showdown for fourth place in the conference will take place in Founders Hall with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m.