By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team defeated Anderson University on Saturday, Feb. 9 by the score of 70-66 in a Heartland Conference tussle. Bluffton improved to 8-15 on the year and is now 6-10 in Heartland Conference play. Anderson fell to 9-14 overall and 5-11 in the HCAC.
Freshman Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) got the Beavers going early as she scored the first four points for a 4-2 lead with 6:32 left in the first round. Erika Montiejunas (Mentor), the only senior on the team, hit a triple from the left wing as she put the Beavers ahead 7-6 with 5:20 remaining. Motiejunas made the most of her first career start on Senior Day, contributing great minutes in her final game at the Sommer Center. The rest of the quarter went back and forth as the Beavers led the high-paced game 21-19 at the end of one stanza.
Bluffton struggled during period two while Anderson raced ahead to a 29-23 lead with 4:54 left in the first half. Kylie Brock (Villa Hills, Ky.) scored the last six points for the home team before halftime, but the Beavers trailed 36-29 at the horn.
The Beavers came out on fire in the second half as they tied the score up at 36-36 with 5:40 left in the third stanza after a 7-0 run. Junior Breanna Graham (Springboro) hit back-to-back triples from straightaway to give the home team a 46-42 lead with 2:17 remaining. Bluffton was still on top 48-45 after three quarters.
Bluffton continued to play steady offense and got enough stops on the defensive end to win the game, 70-66. Anderson tested Bluffton for 40 minutes, but the home team responded with great basketball on both ends of the floor.
Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade Julienne) led Bluffton with 18 points, going 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Mills also led the Beavers in assists with a career-high nine and steals with six. Gillig punched in 16 points for the home team, going 7-of-14 from the floor. Graham added 13 points off the bench and had three steals. Abbie Parkins (Bluffton) led Bluffton with five rebounds.
Payton Moore scored 31 points for the visitors, going 9-of-16 from the field and 13-of-14 at the stripe. She also pulled down eight rebounds. Hanna Ault went for 10 off the bench while pulling down five rebounds. Carly Hackler led the team in assists with six, and Tatum Minier paced the visitors with nine rebounds.
Bluffton shot 25-of-65 for 38.5 percent from the field. Anderson connected on 22-of-48 total (45.8 percent). From long distance, Bluffton made 5-of-20 for 25 percent, while Anderson hit 3-of-12 for 25 percent. Both teams were impressive at the charity stripe. Bluffton went 15-of-17 for 88.2 percent, while Anderson converted 19-of-22 for 86.4 percent. Bluffton was doubled up on the boards (46-23), but made up for it by forcing Anderson into 13 more turnovers (18-5).
Bluffton's next contest will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 P.M. when the women travel to North Manchester, Ind. The Beavers are knotted up with Earlham for the final slot in the HCAC tournament heading into Wednesday's contest with Manchester University. Go Beavers!