|Beaver cagers split openers|
|Friday, November 15, 2013 10:01 PM|
Beaver men open cage season on high note
JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - The Bluffton University men’s basketball team rode a 47-27 first half to a season-opening victory over Knox College on Friday.
The Beavers kicked off the Illinois College Tip-Off Tournament with a convincing 86-65 win thanks to a dominating 54-22 edge on points in the paint.
A bucket by Will Pope and five points from fellow senior Dustin Kinn helped Bluffton to a 7-4 lead less than two minutes into the contest. It was still a one-possession game until Bluffton went on a 13-2 spurt midway though the period to make it 29-15 with 9:15 to play in the half. Sophomore Nate Chambers capped the run with a deuce in the paint.
With Bluffton leading 41-25 and just under two minutes to play in the opening stanza, junior ballhandler Ryan Ebbeskotte (Delphos/Jefferson) sandwiched a pair of hoops around a Thayne Recker chip shot which pushed the lead to 20 points at the break. Pope blistered the nets for 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in period one.
Following consecutive Pope baskets early in the second half, Knox trimmed the deficit to 51-39 with 14:40 to play in the game. A Brock Homier (Continental) layup ignited a 7-point Bluffton run that Recker capped with a hoop-and-harm at the 12:44 mark. Another old-fashioned 3-point play by Recker pushed the lead to 21 points (65-44) at the midpoint of the second 20 minutes.
Knox had one last gasp at the 5-minute mark as Bluffton saw its margin slip to 14 points but Pope and Chambers combined for eight points down the stretch to ensure Bluffton of a season-opening victory over the Prairie Fire.
Pope picked right up where he left off last season, leading all scorers with a career-high 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field. He added five rebounds and three assists for the victors. Recker hit for 16 points on 5-of-7 from the field and he pulled down six boards while draining all six of his free throw attempts. Kinn and Chambers added 13 points apiece. Kinn also grabbed a game-high seven boards for the Beavers.
Bluffton was an efficient 35-of-60 from the field (58.3 percent) compared to 24-of-56 (42.9 percent) for Knox. The Beavers pulled down 10 more rebounds (35-25) and turned it over just 11 times in the win. Bluffton was a superb 15-of-17 at the charity stripe (88.2 percent).
The Beavers will jump back into action today when they tackle host Illinois College at 4 p.m.
BU women fall in hardwood opener
NAPERVILLE, Ill. - The Bluffton University women’s basketball team showed it is not afraid to play the best when it tipped off the 2013-14 campaign with a matchup against #9 Hope College, a team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III Tournament just eight short months ago.
The Flying Dutch built a 49-24 lead at the break and held off the Beavers despite being outscored by Bluffton in the second half.
Hope improved to 1-0 and will play in the North Central championship game today, while the Beavers will hit the court at 1 p.m. for the consolation contest.
Bluffton jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead over Hope before the Flying Dutch responded with a 47-17 spurt to take control of the game. Hope connected on 30-of-72 from the field (41.7 percent), including 18-of-36 (50 percent) in the first 20 minutes. Bluffton finished the game 21-for-49 (42.9 percent). Both teams struggled from outside the arc as the Beavers were 2-of-15 (13.3 percent), compared to Hope which made just 5-for-22 (22.7 percent). The Beavers connected on 15-of-21 (71.4 percent) at the stripe.
Hope pulled down 10 more rebounds (44-34) and the Flying Dutch forced 11 more turnovers (26-15). The Beavers came up with six steals, while Hope finished with 12.
Freshman Rachel Beining (Ottoville) led the Beavers with 15 points on 5-of-10 from the field in her first collegiate action. She pulled down five boards, blocked a shot and picked up two steals. Senior Kylee Burkholder and sophomore Kaitlyn Pennekamp just missed double figures with nine points apiece. Burkholder was a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor. Sophomore Taylor Knight handed out a game-high five dimes to go along with her eight points on 3-of-5 shooting. Junior Belicia Cooper chipped in with six points and five rebounds, while sophomore Taylor Whitaker added seven points and seven caroms.
The Beavers will face the loser of North Central and Ripon at 1 p.m. today in the consolation final of the Chicago Marriott Naperville Tip-Off Tournament.