ALMA, Mich. - The Bluffton University women's basketball team dropped a 67-61 decision at Alma College on Monday, Nov. 12, in the 2018-19 season opener. Alma evened its season mark at 1-1 following a 59-45 loss at Oberlin on Saturday.
A fourth-quarter flurry by freshman Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) pulled the Beavers within a point at 60-59 with three minutes to play but Alma outscored the Beavers 7-2 down the stretch to cap off its 67-61 victory. Gillig converted four deuces in just over two minutes, however, an eight-point third quarter proved too much to overcome.
The first period went back and forth with eight lead changes before Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) knocked down a jumper in the paint for a 19-18 Bluffton lead after one quarter. Alma went ahead early in the second stanza and pushed the spread to four points before Heidi Craddock (Lima/Bath) dialed long distance and freshman Emma Saltzman (Arcadia) hit from in close to make it 30-29 Bluffton with 2:21 left in the half. A Kylie Brock (Villa Hills, KY/Dixie Heights) freebie and fastbreak layin by Mills sent Bluffton into the break with a 35-33 lead.
Bluffton was still tied at 40 with 6:07 to play in the third quarter but three Gillig points were all the Beavers could manage over the final six minutes as Alma opened up a 53-43 lead heading to the final period.
Mills equaled her career high with 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting in 37 minutes of action. She also pulled down five rebounds. Gillig had a monster first night of collegiate hoops, just missing out on a double-double with 19 points and nine boards. The freshman was 7-for-13 from the floor and 3-of-4 at the stripe. Junior Chelsea Moore (Delaware/Olentangy) and sophomore Nora Hemminger (McComb) chipped in five rebounds apiece.
The Beavers hit 24-of-63 from the field (38.1 percent), including just 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) outside the arc. Bluffton finished 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) at the stipe and the visitors pulled down one more rebound than the Scots (35-34).
Bluffton returns to action with a trip to Memphis, Tenn., where the Beavers will play tournament-host Rhodes at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. An 11 a.m. tipoff awaits Bluffton on Sunday, Nov. 18, when the Beavers cap off their weekend against University of the Ozarks from Arkansas.