By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Bluffton University men's basketball team dropped a tough one on the road to the Manchester University Spartans, 74-68, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Bluffton fell to 12-4 overall and 6-3 in the Heartland Conference, while Manchester improved to 6-10 and 3-6 in the HCAC.
The Beavers were up 24-14 when sophomore Aaron Rich (Greenville) hit a layup with 7:02 left in the first half. With a few unanswered buckets by the Spartans, Bluffton saw its lead slipping away as Manchester tied it up (29-29) with 3:02 left to play in the first stanza. Manchester's Nathan Carbaugh had a late tip-in that helped the Spartans to a 33-30 lead going into halftime.
The visitors were looking to fight back and retake the lead and they did just that. Junior Andrew Renner (Cairo/Bath) drilled a three-pointer with 14:32 left in the second stanza that put Bluffton up 45-44, but that would be the last time the Beavers were on top. Manchester started to get hot and the Beavers had no answer. The Spartans extended their lead to 73-63 with 33 seconds left, sealing the outcome and knocking Bluffton out of first place in the Heartland Conference.
Bluffton was led by Rich who netted 21 on 9-of-12 shooting and 1-of-1 from three-point land. He also pulled down three rebounds in the loss. Junior Andrew Renner put in 15 on 6-of-18 shooting, including 2-of-6 from behind the arc. He ripped down a team-high six rebounds on the night. Sophomore Dezman Brown (Elyria) netted 13 on 5-of-6 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep.
The Beavers hit 29-of-52 from the field for 55.8 percent, compared to 25-of-50 (50 percent) for the Spartans. Bluffton was an outstanding 6-of-13 from three-point land for 46.2 percent and the Spartans were equally impressive with 6-of-12 from behind the arc. The Beavers turned the ball over 15 times compared to the 13 times for the Spartans. Manchester pulled down five more rebounds (28-23) than the visitors.
The men will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 19, when they host the Transylvania University Pioneers in a Heartland Conference clash. Tip-off in the Sommer Center is slated for 2 p.m. following the conclusion of the women's noon contest.