By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
HANOVER, Ind. - The Bluffton University men's basketball team traveled to Hanover, IN, to take on the Hanover College Panthers in a Heartland Conference clash on Saturday, Jan. 11. While the game was back and forth for much of the first half, the Panthers pulled away late for a 63-44 victory over the Beavers.
The visitors took a 12-10 lead when Ronnie James (Cleveland/Benedictine) knocked down a jumper with just under 15 minutes to play in the first stanza. A Matt Weimer three-ball put the Panthers up 18-15 with 11:43 left in the first half, a lead they would never surrender en route to the 63-44 victory over a Bluffton team that was down three starters at tipoff.
Bluffton was in a 10-7 hole when Hanover's Isaac Hibbard converted a hoop and harm with 16:37 on the clock. But the Beavers would respond and climb back to take a 15-10 lead when Andrew Renner (Cairo/Bath) completed his old-fashioned three-point play with 14:21 left in the first stanza. The home team answerd back, taking a 39-31 lead into the break.
Hanover's hot shooting carried into the second half when Kevin Williams dropped a deuce to make it 43-31, forcing Bluffton to take an early timeout and regroup. The Beavers would climb back into the game, cutting the deficit to 45-40 when Isaiah Taylor (Yellow Springs) hit from in close with 12:28 left in the contest. Unfortunately, it was all Hanover from that point on as the Panthers moved to 4-2 in the conference thanks to their 63-44 victory.
Renner led the way for a depleted Beavers squad, notching 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-5 from three-point land. James netted a career-high nine points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 from distance. Taylor notched eight points of his own and he also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.
Bluffton hit 19-of-49 (38.8 percent) from the field, including 5-of-18 from outside the arc. The visitors turned the ball over 14 times, one more than the home team. Hanover pulled down 31 rebounds, compared to Bluffton's 24.
Bluffton is back in action on Wednesday, Jan. 15, when the Beavers travel to Richmond, IN, to take on the Earlham College Quakers in a mid-week HCAC clash. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.