On the bank of the Riley Creek, the Bluffton University women’s basketball team (14-5, 9-3 HCAC) defeated and swept the season series with the Hanover College Panthers (12-7, 8-4 HCAC) Saturday afternoon in a thrilling 64-62 comeback where the Beavers were down by 12 at halftime.
Leading the way for the Beavers was senior forward Kaycee Rowe (Harrod/Allen East) finishing with a double-double: 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The first quarter saw a very faced pace, back and forth action between both teams which led to a one-point Bluffton lead, 17-16.
The second quarter came and went and Bluffton fell apart. Shooting lights out in the first quarter from the field, the Beavers went ice cold, allowing the Panthers to take a 43-31 halftime lead. Leading Bluffton was sophomore guard TJ Mills (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) and seniors Abigail O’Donnell (Arcanum/Arcanum) and Macey Sheerer (Bucyrus/Bucyrus) all with seven points.
“I felt like we hit our first three 3-pointers, and we got cold,” said Head Coach Chad Shutler on the first half shooting. “We were settling a little bit for the shots they really wanted us to take instead of the shot we really wanted. We hit some of those early threes with some momentum and some rhythm, and they were good shots that went in, but you start to get a little happy when you shoot those instead of going inside, which I felt we really needed to do.”
Hanover played a tough 3-2 zone defense on Bluffton and forced the Beavers to take the shots they have been struggling with all year, the three-point shot.
“Attack the basket a little bit more through the high post, through the short corner, through the baseline, through some drives and then getting back on defense and being solid,” said Coach Shutler on adjustments he told his team to make coming out of halftime.
“A key for us was her [Rowe] being able to attack the high post and finish with some baskets, so I thought our kids’ poise down the stretch was good.”
And attack they did. Bluffton outscored Hanover by 11 going on an 18-7 run in the third quarter. The fourth quarter started to feel like the second when Bluffton got cold from the field and Hanover made a comeback.
Many Beavers coming off the bench had key plays in the second half to help their team secure the victory.
“Nora [Hemminger] came in off the bench and hit two really big shots in the fourth quarter,” said Coach Shutler on the freshman guard from McComb. “[That] put us up six or eight points and then it was just kind of like handle that pressure, but I thought our defense was really good in the second half, I thought our defense that last possession was outstanding.”
Next up for the Beavers is a tango with the Lions from Mount Saint Joesph University in Cincinnati. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.