By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team played host to conference foe Rose-Hulman on Saturday, Dec. 14. The only time the Engineers led was after they scored the first basket of the game. It was all Beavers the rest of the way, culminating in a 60-51 victory. Bluffton moved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Heartland Conference, while RHIT fell to 1-6 and 0-2 in the HCAC.
The Beaver offense jumped out to a quick start when sophomore Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) converted her first hoop and harm to make the score 10-6 with 2:54 left in the first quarter. Bluffton added to the lead when junior Abbie Parkins (Bluffton) dropped a deuce to make it 17-8 at the end of one.
The home team struck first in period two thanks to an Emma Saltzman (Arcadia) layup that made the score 19-8. Bluffton still led by 10 when freshman Sammy Shardo (Findlay/Liberty Benton) nailed a 3-point shot, making the score 29-19 with 3:22 left in the half. The visitors climbed back within five, making it a 31-26 game at the break.
Bluffton saw its lead fritter away when Rose Hulman's Rose Burnham hit a layup to tie it at 31 with 7:36 to go in the third period. The home team would not cave in and went back up 10 when senior Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) split a pair of free throws to make it 45-35 in favor of the Beavers. Rose followed suit at the end of the quarter to make it 45-36 heading to the final stanza.
Bluffton dialed up the pressure in the fourth period, opening up its largest lead of the afternoon when Nora Hemminger (McComb) completed an old-fashioned three-point play which made it 60-42. The Engineers fought till the end, but Bluffton was too much as the Beavers secured a 60-51 victory.
Gillig led three Beavers in double figures with a game-high 15 points. The sophomore was 5-of-8 from the field with three conventional three-point plays as the Engineers had no answer for her in the first half. She also pulled down a team-high six rebounds. Hemminger sparked the offense off the bench with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Mills chipped in with 10 points, five steals and five assists.
Bluffton went 20-of-47 (42.6 percent) from the field, but just 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from distance. Rose finished 18-of-44 (40.9 percent) from the field, including 2-of-10 from behind the arc. The Engineers turned it over a whopping 20 times, compared to the 13 for the Beavers. Rose pulled down 10 more rebounds on the afternoon (35-25).
The women are back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 17, when they travel to Delaware for a non-conference matchup with the Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.