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Thursday, February 14, 2013 1:55 PM

Bluffton squashes Yellow Jackets 75-55 on Senior Night
By Evan Skilliter
Sports information assistant
BLUFFTON — The Bluffton University men’s basketball team welcomed Defiance College to the Sommer Center on Wednesday, desperately needing a win to keep their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament hopes alive.

A dominating inside presence coupled with a career-high 12 assists from Ryan Ebbeskotte (Ft. Jennings/Delphos Jefferson) sent the Beavers to a 75-55 victory over their biggest rivals on Senior Night, helping seniors Tyler Neal (Bluffton), Josh Fisher (Rockford/Parkway) and Matt Gerdeman (Delphos/Jefferson) end their home career in victorious fashion.

Bluffton stormed out to a 7-0 lead after a quick four in a row from Will Pope (Somerville/Preble Shawnee) and a 3-pointer from Neal got the full-capacity crowd fired up in a hurry. After a Mason Roth 3-pointer got Defiance on the scoreboard, Neal hit another trey to put the Beavers up 10-3.

After four straight Defiance points made the score 10-7, freshman Thayne Recker (Arlington) converted a hoop-and-harm for a 6-point lead. On the next possession, Recker put the Beavers up 15-7 with another layup.

The home team continued its outstanding play and extended the lead to as many as 15 points on two more Recker free throws at the 8:32 mark in the first half. However, an 11-3 Defiance run reduced the visitor’s deficit to seven with 5:09 on the clock.

Pope ended the run after Neal found him in the paint for two and the Beavers outscored the Jackets 7-4 the rest of the way, ending the first half with a 41-29 lead.
Bluffton picked up where it left off in the second as Neal drained his third trifecta of the game, putting the Beavers up 44-29 early in the final half. With a big lead and the raucous Sommer Center crowd behind them, the Beavers continued to push, spreading the point differential to 21 points at the 12:54 mark after a Dustin Kinn (Alvada/New Reigle) chip shot.

A deep Defiance three from Drew Frizell reduced the lead to 12 with 9:55 remaining but that’s as close as the Jackets would get as the Beavers pushed the lead to 22 points before capping the delightful 20-point win.

Pope finished the night as the game’s leading scoring, tallying 21 points and eight rebounds while hitting 8-of-9 from the field. Recker and Kinn, Pope’s sidekicks down low, finished with 11 and 10 points, as well as six and five rebounds, respectively. Neal chipped in with nine points, three assists and two rebounds, playing in his final home game for his father, Coach Neal. Fisher did the job defensively on Defiance standout Logan Wolfrum. Ebbeskotte’s career-high 12 assists were just one off the school record of 13 held by Marcus Bixler.

The Beavers as a team turned in an impressive 52-percent shooting night from the field (26-of-50), 5-of-15 from behind the arc, and 18-of-23 (78.3%) at the charity stripe. The Beavers outrebounded the Jackets 34-23 but committed one more turnover (14-13).

Bluffton will wrap up the regular season on Saturday in Lexington, Ky., when the men take on Transylvania. The contest is slated for 4 p.m. A Bluffton win and Mount St. Joseph loss to Anderson would give the Beavers a berth in the HCAC tournament next week.
Bluffton women take down Yellow Jackets 62-47 on Senior Night
By Ryan Schadewald
Sports information assistant
BLUFFTON — The Bluffton University women’s basketball team was able to earn revenge against their archrivals on Wednesday.
The Beavers were defeated 54-32 in Defiance in their first meeting against the Yellow Jackets back on January 2. However, Bluffton was able to turn the tables and defeat Defiance 62-47 in a game they never trailed in the Sommer Center.

Bluffton also honored its lone senior, Lauren Hutton (New Riegel), on Senior Night prior to the contest. The win bumped the Beavers back to 12-12 and 7-10 in Heartland Conference play. The Yellow Jackets slipped to 14-10 overall and 11-6 in HCAC action.

With the home team up 9-7, the Beavers were able to go on a 12-4 spurt for a 10-point advantage. The run began with a deuce from Brooke Ruffer (Stryker), followed by a 3-ball by Taylor Whitaker (Mansfield/Lexington) and a Belicia Cooper (Painesville/Riverside) freebie to give Bluffton a 15-7 lead at the 10:04 mark of the first half.
Whitaker knocked down a free throw and followed that up with a deep ball to push the Beaver lead to 10 points (21-11) at the 2:45 mark of the first half. The Yellow Jackets trimmed the deficit to six before back-to-back triples from Ruffer and Kaitlyn Pennekamp (Hamilton/Ross) made it a 12-point game. Kim Bingley’s jumper left Bluffton up 29-19 at the break.

Defiance cut the lead down as low as six points at the 15:25 mark of the second half, but the Beavers used an 8-0 run, sparked by a huge three from freshman Carolin Baker (Bethel-Tate) off the bench. Back-to-back deuces from Kylee Burkholder (West Unity/Hltop), a free throw from Rachel DeBord (Lebanon) and a Pennekamp trifecta pushed the Bluffton lead to 17 points with 11:18 remaining.

Defiance answered with eight straight points; however, Bluffton continued to pour gas on the fire as they went on a 15-4 jag to close out the Yellow Jackets. The home team converted on seven consecutive free throws during the spurt to help seal the win.

The Beavers were led by freshman phenom Ruffer who scored 17 points, added six boards and handed out three dimes. Freshman Taylor Knight was also in double figures, scoring 11 points and delivering four assists while setting the tone early on with a pair of drives into the lane. Whitaker chipped in seven counters, while Pennekamp and Burkholder each added six off the bench. Hutton finished her career in the Sommer Center scoring four markers and she led the team with nine rebounds.

Defiance was paced by Hannah Harshman, who scored 14 for the Yellow Jackets in a losing effort.

The victors were able to take advantage of a poor shooting night for the Yellow Jackets. Defiance hit only 26.2 percent (16-of-61) from the floor, including 15 percent (3-of-20) outside the arc. Bluffton finished at 36.7 percent (22-of-60) and 40 percent (6-of-15) from beyond the arc. Defiance pulled down one more rebound (46-45) and both teams took care of the rock as they combined for just 21 turnovers (11 for Bluffton)

Bluffton will finish up the regular season on Saturday when the Beavers head to Lexington, Ky., to take on the Transylvania Pioneers in the first game of a doubleheader with the men. The women’s contest is slated to start at 2 p.m. in the Beck Center. The Beavers need a win and some help from Manchester to secure a berth in the upcoming HCAC tournament.


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