By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team won a hard-fought battle against Earlham College on Wednesday, Dec. 5 by the score of 63 to 53. The win moved the Beavers to 2-5 on the year (1-1 HCAC). The Quakers fell to 1-4 and they also stand 1-1 in HCAC contests.
The first stanza was a back and forth battle as the Beavers and the Quakers exchanged baskets. Bluffton led 15-13 at the end of the opening period with nine of the Beavers' 15 points scored at the free throw line.
The beginning of the second quarter looked similar to the first 10 minutes as the Beavers led 19-18 after a layup by freshman Emma Saltzman (Arcadia). The next eight points for the home team were rolled off by sophomore Heidi Craddock (Lima/Bath) as she hit a jumper and back-to-back triples to give the Beavers a 27-20 lead with 5:50 on the clock. The quarter ended with Kylie Brock (Villa Hills, KY/Dixie Heights) scoring buckets on consecutive possessions for a 35-28 lead at the break.
The third quarter saw the Beavers attack the basket as they hit five layups. However, Earlham outscored the Beavers, 14-11, cutting the Bluffton lead to just 46-42 thanks to a five-minute dry spell for the home team.
The Quakers knotted it up at 47 apiece after a layup by Amy Weisner, but they were never able to take the lead. Nora Hemminger (McComb) put up six points in the final seven minutes of the game to help the Beavers salt it away, 63-53, after Saltzman drilled a pair of 10-footers on the baseline that put the Beavers up by five with 2:36 to play.
Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) led the Beavers in the scoring category as she put up 16 points, going 5-of-9 from the field and 6-of-8 at the free-throw line. Saltzman put up career highs with 12 points, seven boards and five blocks, going 5-for-6 from the field. Hemminger dropped in 10 points for the victors. Craddock equaled her career best with nine points as she went 2-of-4 from the three-point line. Junior Chelsea Moore (Delaware/Olentangy) pulled down seven rebounds, three offensive, as she gave the team valuable minutes off the bench. Breanna Graham (Springboro) led the Beavers with five assists.
Kayla Bowling paced Earlham with 15 points, going 5-of-16 for the game. Camryn White and Zoe Curtis both chipped in with 10 points apiece and they combined to pull down 13 rebounds.
The Beavers went 21-of-48 from the field, making 43.8 percent of their shots. Earlham struggled to an 18-of-70 night, shooting a paltry 25.7 percent for the game. Both teams had trouble from the three-point line as the Beavers went 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) while the Quakers were 4-of-23 for 17.4 percent. Even though the Quakers led in the rebounding category (45-36) and committed four fewer turnovers (17-13), Bluffton was still able to win the contest because of its shut-down defense which forced Earlham into difficult shots on almost every possession.
The Beavers will have a chance for another HCAC victory when they welcome Hanover College on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 1 P.M. in the Sommer Center on the campus of Bluffton University. The men's team will play the Panthers immediately after the women's contest. Come out and support your Beavers!