By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team knocked off the Manchester University Spartans on Senior Night, 61-44, for a big Heartland Conference win at the Sommer Center on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Although the Beavers struggled from the field, they led from wire to wire. Manchester's lackluster shooting allowed the home team to come away with a pivotal win. Bluffton improved to 17-7 overall and 11-6 in the Heartland Conference, while Manchester fell to 9-15 overall and 6-11 in the HCAC. The 11 Heartland Conference victories establishes a new school record for the men!
Bluffton took a 9-0 lead when sophomore Dezman Brown (Elyria) hit a three-point shot with 15:55 remaining in the first stanza. After an up-and-down first half of action, the Beavers would take a 31-17 lead into the break.
A couple makes at the charity stripe by sophomore Aaron Rich (Greenville) made the score 32-17 with 19:43 left in the second stanza. Although the Spartans pulled within three at 36-33 with 14:40 to play, seven straight points, capped by a Brevin Dye (Bedford Heights/Trinity) triple, pushed it back out to double digits. The Beavers would all but seal their victory when freshman Jameel Cosby (Springfield/Kenton Ridge) knocked down a pair of free throws that made the score 57-44 with 2:12 left in the game.
Cosby led the way, netting 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, and 2-of-3 from three-point land. Brown came in behind him with nine of his own on 2-of-6 shooting from the field, including 1-of-3 from behind the arc. Senior starters Mandell Ransaw (Cleveland/Cuyahoga CC), Jared Wentling (Carey), Justis Dowdy (Van Wert/Lincolnview) and Michael Pickel (Dayton/Ashland) all combined for 12 points in the Senior Night victory for Bluffton.
The Beavers hit 18-of-49 from the field for 38.8 percent, compared to 18-of-58 (31 percent) for the Spartans. Bluffton went 4-of-14 from three-point (28.6 percent) while the Spartans were 4-of-16 (25 percent) from behind the arc. The home team dominated the glass with a 47-29 rebounding advantage, but the Beavers also turned it over five more times (18-13).
The men will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 16, when they travel to Franklin College for the final regular season contest of the season. The game is slated to tip-off at 4 p.m. following the conclusion of the women's contest. Bluffton has clinched a tournament berth and is still in play for a home contest next Tuesday, Feb. 19, once all the seedings are finalized after the Saturday games go final.