By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team fought off a valiant comeback bid from the Mount St. Joseph Lions and held on for a 72-70 victory on Thursday, Jan. 31. Although the Beavers and Lions were back and forth throughout most of the first stanza, Bluffton kept the home team deadlocked at 28 for the last 4:15 of the first half and took a 42-28 lead at the break after scoring 17 unanswered points. Bluffton improved to 15-5 overall and 9-4 in the Heartland Conference, while Mount fell to 6-14 overall and 4-9 in the HCAC.
With 6:34 left in the first stanza, MSJ's Brady Thomas hit a layup that knotted the game at 23 before the Beavers started to turn the tide. With 29 seconds remaining in the half sophomore Dezman Brown (Elyria) would nail a three-point shot that gave the Beavers a 40-28 lead with little time remaining in the half. Another Bluffton deuce made it 42-28 at the break.
With the Lions making a late surge that saw the Beaver lead cut to four, junior Brevin Dye (Bedford heights/Trinity) hit from in close for 72-68 lead with 1:35 left in the game. Some stifling Beaver defense would seal a crucial 72-70 victory for Bluffton in the Queen City on a frigid Thursday evening.
Bluffton was led by Dye who put up a career-high 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting while also pulling down two rebounds in the victory. Senior Justis Dowdy (Van Wert/Lincolnview) notched 12 of his own on 5-of-6 shooting and 2-of-3 from three-point land. Jameel Cosby (Springfield/Kenton Ridge) and Brown went for 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Andrew Renner (Cairo/Bath) and Cosby pulled down 10 and eight rebounds for the victors.
The Beavers were a red-hot 30-of-56 from the field for 53.6 percent, including 8-of-21 for 38.1 percent from three-point land. The Lions hit 25-of-59 for 42.4 percent from the field and 13-of-30 from outside the arc (43.3 percent). The visitors ripped down 12 more boards (37-25), but they turned it over four more times (10-6).
Bluffton will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 2, when the Beavers travel to Rose-Hulman to take on the Engineers in an HCAC tilt. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. following the women's contest at 1 p.m.