Transylvania 88, Bluffton 72
Transylvania dominates second half in 88-72 win over Bluffton
By: Aaron Mass, sports information intern
January 6, 2009
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team squandered a chance to even its conference record, as it lost to Transylvania by a final tally of 88-72 in Founders Hall on January 6, 2009. The Beavers were not able to get enough defensive stops in dropping to 9-4 overall and 1-3 in the conference. The Lady Pioneers kept their stranglehold atop the HCAC, and now stand at 10-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference.
Bluffton scored on its first possession of the game following a jumper by junior Ginny Buckingham (Bluffton). Transylvania opened and maintained a slim lead until junior Katie Lord (Toledo/Whitmer) banged a three to tie it at 14 with 12:36 left in the half. She was assisted by Buckingham on the play.
The Pioneers reclaimed the lead by scoring five straight points until the home team responded to the 19-14 deficit by putting together a 13-4 run over a 2:35 span. Freshman sharp-shooter Beth Yoder (Marshallville/Smithville) hit one of her trio of three-balls to finish the jag and make the score 27-23 in favor of the Beavers at the 9:15 mark of the opening stanza.
The visitors then scored six straight points and never trailed for the remainder of the half, as the best Bluffton could do was forge two ties.
Transylvania's Jackie Distler turned a steal into a layup at the other end for a 40-34 Transy lead with 1:05 left in the half. The bucket accounted for two of her 20 points. The Beavers refused to let its deficit grow before half, as Lord hit a layup 15 seconds later. Following a Pioneer miscue, freshman Becky Ruble (Grover Hill/Wayne Trace) drained a long-ball with 14 seconds remaining to bring the Beavers within one point (40-39) at the half.
The visiting team dominated the second half of play. Brittany Henderlight made a layup just 22 seconds into the period for two of her game-high 21 points. Bluffton's freshman center Emily Shellabarger (St. Mary's/Memorial) swatted away a Transy shot, one of her five blocks on the evening; then converted two free throws at the other end. This made the score 42-41 in favor of the visitors. It was the closest Bluffton would come to the Pioneers the rest of the contest. Transylvania scored the next 11 points of the ballgame to make the score 53-41 with 16:19 to play.
Lindsay Ebbeskotte (Delphos/Jefferson) knocked in a Shellabarger miss to make it 60-50 with 11:56 left. The Lady Pioneers responded with a three by Brittany Henderlight. However, the Beavers had one more push, scoring the next six points. Shellabarger hit a jumper, Lord canned two free throws and then she found Shellabarger underneath for a quick deuce. The score was 63-56 at the midway point of the second half.
Bluffton's chances to get back into the game were hurt when it went on a critical scoring drought for the next two minutes. Meanwhile, Transy dropped in the game's next eight points to put the Beavers in a hole it could not climb out of. That 8-0 run made the score 71-56 with 8:13 left. Transy's lead never went below double-digits the rest of the contest.
Sophomore Kim Miller (Delphos/St. John's) dished out one of her five assists for Shellabarger to momentarily stop the bleeding, but the damage had already been done. The Beavers could not afford to trade baskets, and Transy continued its aggressive approach.
Bluffton finished out its scoring in the HCAC matchup when freshman Brittany Lewis (Springfield/Shawnee) put back her own miss with just 12 seconds on the clock.
Transylvania had three players in double-digits, including two of them with over 20 points. Brittany Henderlight led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-3 outside the arc. She was a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line and also led the team in rebounds with seven. Jackie Distler was right behind Henderlight with 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Ashley Pait was also a major factor in the game as she scored 17 in the win. Olivia Akridge came off the bench to drop nine dimes out of Transy's 23 assists.
Bluffton had a balanced scoring attack once again, with four players reaching double figures. Shellabarger led the Beavers in scoring for the fifth time this season. The freshman poured in 16 points and also blocked five shots. Beth Yoder hit three shots from beyond the arc for 11 points. Kim Miller finished with 11 points and five assists, and Buckingham pitched in 10 points. Katie Lord added eight points and led the team on the glass with a career-high nine boards.
The Lady Pioneers shot the ball considerably well from the field, 34-of-67 (50.7 percent), compared to just 26-for-58 by Bluffton (44.8 percent). Both teams hit six three-pointers and 14 free throws. However, Transy's dominant second half performance included outscoring the Beavers 48-33 with a 17-of-33 mark from the floor (51.5 percent) in the half. The home team only hit 11-of-35 field goals in the final stanza (31.4 percent).
The Bluffton women continue Heartland Conference action this Saturday, January 10, when they make the trip to Hanover, Indiana, to face the Hanover College Panthers. That contest will tip-off at 1 p.m., and it will be followed by the men's tilt at 3 p.m.