By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team fell to Wheaton (Ill.) in the championship game of the 6th annual McDonald's Holiday Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, by the score of 67-47. The loss dropped Bluffton to 4-7 on the season, while Wheaton improved to 9-3.
Wheaton went out to a quick start against the Beavers, going on an early 11-0 run after trailing 2-0. That was the story of the first quarter as the Beavers trailed 17-4 at the end of one. The Beavers struggled to a 2-of-13 shooting performance during the first 10 minutes.
The Beavers started to claw their way back in the second period as they used an 8-0 spurt to cut the deficit to just two points (21-19) with 5:42 remaining in the half after two free throws by Brianna Gillig (New Riegel). Wheaton would answer back with an even more impressive 13-0 run for a 34-19 advantage with 48 seconds left in the half. The score was 34-21 at the break with the visitors in control.
Wheaton continued to cruise in the third period, extending their lead to 20 points after a hoop and harm by Hannah Frazier with 3:53 left in the quarter. The Beavers fought back to make it a 52-36 game with 10 minutes to play.
The home team continued to fight in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late. Wheaton outscored the Beavers 15-11 in the final period, making the final tally 67-47 in favor of The Thunder.
Gillig led the Beavers with 13 points, going 7-of-8 from the charity stripe, while pulling down a team-high nine rebounds. Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade Julienne) scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Other contributors to the scoring column were Heidi Craddock (Lima/Bath) and Lj Olverson (Cincinnati/Princeton) as they put up six points apiece. Mills and Nora Hemminger (McComb) were named to the McDonald's All-Tournament Team
Wheaton was led by tournament MVP Hannah Frazier as she scored 36 points on 13-of-16 from the floor while making all of her three-point shots (4-of-4) and her free-throw attempts (6-for-6). She completely dominated the game and could not be stopped. Devin Kyler stuffed the stat sheet for Wheaton as she scored nine points, pulled down 12 rebounds, dished out six assists and had two blocks and steals.
Bluffton hit just 16-of-54 for the game (29.6 percent). Wheaton shot 22-for-56, making 39.3 percent of their shots. The Beavers finished 13-of-23 from the charity stripe for 56.5 percent, while Wheaton converted 16-of-21 (76.2 percent). The Beavers outrebounded the visiting team 42-38, while Wheaton handed out seven more assists (17-10).
The Beavers will have nothing but conference games going forward as they are set to start the annual January/February marathon. Their next contest will be in the New Year as they travel to Mount St. Joseph on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. The men's team will be at home for the Lions that same night at 7:30 p.m. Come out and support your Beavers!