Adrian 65, Bluffton 64
Bluffton rally falls just short in 65-64 loss at Adrian
By: Aaron Mass, sports information intern
December 16, 2008
ADRIAN, Mich. - The Bluffton University men's basketball team lost a one-point heartbreaker at Adrian College, 65-64, on December 16, 2008. The Bulldogs improved to 3-4 overall with the non-conference victory, while the visiting Beavers lost their second in a row and now stand at 6-3.
The home team scored the first four points of the game on free throws. The Beavers got on the board with 16:45 showing when Josiah Stober (Spencerville) found fellow senior Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) for a layup. The Beavers tied it at four when the duo hooked up on the very next possession, this time with Rufenacht feeding Stober. The Bulldogs responded by scoring the next nine points to open up a 13-4 lead with 12:49 left in the opening stanza. A layup by freshman Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) ended Bluffton's 3:34 scoreless streak.
An Adrian bucket at the 10:22 mark made the score 17-9 before the Beavers abruptly responded with a 12-0 spurt during the next 3:22. Senior Nick Wilson (Continental) started the burst with a jumper. Farley then scored on an assist from freshman Nick Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue), one of his four dimes on the evening. Farley and Wilson scored ten consecutive points in that span as Bluffton opened a 21-17 lead with the clock showing exactly seven minutes.
The Bulldogs answered Bluffton's surge was a 14-0 run as the Beavers once again had a scoring drought, this one lasting 3:07. The Adrian scoring outburst was fueled by Michael Staley who had had five of his game-high 23 points during the run.
Senior captain Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) stopped the bleeding with his only field goal of the night, a long ball to make the score 31-24 with 3:35 remaining in the first half. Just over a minute later, Cunningham found junior Chris Singleton (Ada) in the lane for a layup. The score at the half was 42-28 in favor of the home team, Adrian's biggest advantage of the period. The Bulldogs built their halftime lead thanks to 17-of-26 shooting from the field (65.4 percent) compared to 12-26 by the visitors (46.2 percent).
Colt Cunningham hit his first of two tries at the charity stripe to open the second half. A Staley jumper at the 19:04 mark gave Adrian is largest lead of the ballgame, 44-29. Bluffton was unable to cut the lead to single digits the next few minutes as Adrian continuously scored in the paint. Bluffton finally cut its deficit to 49-41 when senior Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) converted both tries at the charity stripe at the 15:30 mark. Staley once again responded for Adrian, dialing long distance to stretch the lead to 11 (52-41) just inside of the 15-minute mark.
The Beavers were not through yet. They clawed their way back by going on a 10-0 jag during the next 6:27. Much of the credit is due to an air-tight defense that forced three turnovers in that span. Their resurgence was aided by a Lee jumper and a pair of Wilson buckets. Bluffton came within 52-51 on a rare jumper from Justin Rufenacht with 8:37 to play.
Lee got to the cup, cutting the lead to 59-57 and prompting a timeout by Adrian before Staley buried a three with 4:43 left to make the score 62-57 in favor of Adrian
The Beavers simply would not give up as Rufenacht found Taylor for one of his four assists. With 2:58 remaining, the Beaver deficit stood at three points (62-59). Despite a timeout by Coach Neal, the Beavers could not cut into the three point hole as Adrian's Brett Asher hit a jumper to stretch the lead back out to five points (64-59).
Taylor had an answer just 17 seconds later. His drive to the rack made it three points again, a 64-61 score with 1:32 still remaining on the game clock. Another timeout by Coach Neal proved beneficial when an enormous three-ball by Nick Wilson knotted the game at 64 with only 48 seconds left. It was the first time the Beavers tied or led the game since a 21-20 advantage with 5:57 remaining in the first half.
The Beavers were whistled for a foul with only 16 seconds left and the shot clock running down. Staley managed to hit the second of two at the line to give the Bulldogs a slim 65-64 advantage. Bluffton looked to senior Nick Wilson as time ticked away, but his jumper was off the mark with time winding down. Adrian inbounded the ball and escaped with a one point victory.
Nick Wilson came off the bench for a team high 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Aaron Taylor was not far behind with 14 points on 6-of-9 from the floor. Justin Rufenacht led the team with five rebounds and four assists. Nick Lee also dished out four assists.
Michael Staley notched a game-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting (including 3-for-3 from distance). Staley also led the team with seven assists. Two other Bulldogs hit double digits in scoring. Brett Asher had 12 points and Desmond Young chipped in with 10.
Both teams shot well from the floor. Bluffton was an even 26-of-52 (50 percent) while Adrian converted 25-of-45 (55.6 percent). Adrian won the battle on the boards by a narrow 26-22 margin. Both teams were solid with the ball, as Bluffton had a meager 10 turnovers compared to 13 by the home team.
Bluffton is on the road again for a non-conference clash this Thursday, December 18, at Hiram College. The game is slated to tip at 7:30 p.m. Following the contest against the Terriers, the Beavers will return home for the annual Bluffton Holiday Tournament on Dec. 30-31, 2008.