By: Adriane Bruner, sports information assistant
February 12, 2014
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton men put up a fight against the Mount St. Joseph Lions in their second Heartland Conference matchup of the season, but again came up just short as they were unable to slow MSJ's potent offense. Despite a strong Bluffton effort in the second half, the Lions proved themselves a force to be reckoned with from distance as 33 points came from behind the arc en route to the 90-79 victory on Wednesday, Feb. 12. The Beavers fell to 8-14 with a current record of 4-11 in the HCAC, while the Lions moved to 13-8 and 10-5 in the conference.
With a slow start to the first half, the Beavers were the first to put points on the board with a deuce from THAYNE RECKER (Arlington) which was immediately countered with the first three of the night for the Lions from KEN KUNKEL. The Beavers came back with a tip-in by BROCK HOMIER (Continental), but the Lions answered immediately with another shot from long range.
The Beavers continued to battle with consecutive hoops from WILL POPE (Somerville/Preble Shawnee) and a few aggressive drives to the hole by BILLY TAFLINGER (Lima/Central Catholic). Despite their best efforts, Bluffton was not able to hold down the one-man show from JOEL SCUDDER who managed to hit numerous contested three-point shots as the visitors led by as many as nine points in the first 20 minutes of action. With a last second hustling lay-up from Taflinger, the Beavers went to the locker room down 34-27 to the Lions.
The second half started much like the first as the Beavers struggled to take back the lead from the Lions. Mount St. Joseph pushed the spread to 21 points midway through the period as the visitors carved up Bluffton's defense.
With just over five minutes left, the Beavers attempted to get back into it with five late triples, including one each from freshmen TREY ELCHERT (Jackson Center) and AUSTIN ROHDE (Shelby). A hoop and harm for Taflinger and three trifectas from ZACH RUMBAUGH (Lima/Senior) helped Bluffton pull within 11. Despite the tremendous last-minute efforts from Rumbaugh and Rohde off the bench, the clock was the enemy as MSJ held on for the 90-79 victory.
Thayne Recker paced Bluffton with 15 points and eight rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Taflinger was also 6-of-8 for 14 points with a career-high seven dimes. Rohde and Rumbaugh had career nights with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Rumbaugh went 3-of-5 from deep, while Rohde was a perfect 2-of-2 on triples. Pope pulled down eight boards, while Homier and Kinn both finished with five caroms. RYAN EBBESKOTTE (Delphos/Jefferson) handed out five assists. Joel Scudder led all scorers with 37 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including a blistering 7-of-13 from extremely long range.
Bluffton went 29-of-57 (50.9 percent) from the field, while Mount St. Joseph hit 31-of-55 (56.4 percent). The Beavers struggled from the charity stripe as they were 14-of-23 (60.9 percent) while the Lions went 17-of-23 (73.9 percent). The Lions added a good portion of their points from distance, going 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) while the Beavers were less successful from three-point line, hitting 7-of-22 (31.8 percent). Bluffton finished with a marked 35-26 edge on the boards, but the home team also turned it over six more times (10-4).
The Beavers will hit the court again this Saturday, Feb. 15, for a chance to make their way back into the win column. Tip-off in the Sommer Center is slated for 3 p.m. against conference-leading Rose-Hulman.