By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
HANOVER, Ind. - The Bluffton University men's basketball team hit 30-of-37 at the free throw line en route to a 79-68 win over Anderson University in the opening round of the Heartland Conference Tournament on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. The Beavers improved to 18-8 on the season, while Anderson saw its season come to an end with an 11-15 mark. Bluffton's win over the Ravens has the 2018-19 squad tied with the 1984-85 and 2006-07 teams for the most victories in school history!
Bluffton opened a 15-8 spread when junior Andrew Renner (Cairo/Bath) hit a layup with 14:56 remaining to play in the first half. The Beavers used a stout defensive effort to take a comfortable 35-22 lead at the break. Anderson struggled with a 9-of-32 shooting effort in the first stanza for just 28.1 percent from the field.
The Beavers were looking to keep the pedal on the gas going into the second half of play, and the Beavers did just that. Junior Isaiah Taylor (Yellow Springs) kicked off the second period scoring with a pair of free throws to make the score 37-22. The Ravens cut the Beaver lead to 11 when Peters split a pair at the stripe to make it 50-39 mid-way through the second stanza. Trying to stave off a Raven late comeback, Bluffton's Dezman Brown (Elyria) would all but seal the victory when he hit a huge three-point shot which made the score 67-53 with 1:36 left to play.
Renner led the way, netting 20 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and 11-for-15 from the free throw line. He also came down with six rebounds in the victory. Jameel Cosby (Springfield/Kenton Ridge) bucketed 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Cosby also dished out a career-high nine assists for the victors. Bluffton bigs Taylor and Aaron Rich (Greenville) would combine for 25 points on 9-of-16 from the field and they also pulled down 17 rebounds.
The Beavers hit 22-of-52 from the field for 42.3 percent, compared to 23-of-57 (40.4 percent) for the Ravens. Bluffton went 5-of-14 from three-point land (35.7 percent), while the Ravens were 8-of-20 (40 percent) from behind the arc. The Beavers dominated the glass with a 46-29 rebounding advantage, but Bluffton turned it over four more times (17-13). Anderson struggled to a 14-of-25 night at the line (56 percent), while the Beavers were an outstanding 30-of-37 for 81.1 percent.
The men will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 23, when they do battle with the host team and top-seeded Hanover College Panthers in the first semifinal game of the day. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m.