By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Bluffton University women's basketball team defeated Manchester by the score of 77-69 in a thrilling overtime battle on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The win pushes Bluffton to 9-15 on the year and 7-10 in Heartland Conference play. Manchester dropped to 4-20 and is now 2-15 in the HCAC. Bluffton's victory, combined with Earlham's loss to Defiance, has the Beavers assured of a spot in the upcoming HCAC Tournament that is slated to kick off on Tuesday, Feb. 19!
Bluffton jumped out to a quick start as they led 10-5 with 5:08 left in the first quarter. Four of the first 10 points were scored by sophomore Abbie Parkins (Bluffton). Manchester responded with a 14-6 run for a 19-16 lead after one round.
The Spartans took that momentum from the end of the first quarter and carried it right into the second as they used an 7-0 run to open a comfortable 26-16 lead over Bluffton. Trailing 27-18, Kylie Brock (Villa Hills, Ky.) hit a jump shot and a three-point bomb to pull within 27-23 at the 2:20 mark of quarter two. Bluffton would fight back to knot the score up at 29-29 when the halftime buzzer sounded.
Manchester quickly gained the lead back early in the third quarter as the home team went up 36-30 with 7:30 remaining. Bluffton would continue to fight its way back into the game, but Manchester still held a 48-43 advantage at the end of three rounds.
The fourth quarter was the Brock show! Brock netted 17 points in the final stanza, hitting a combination of free throws, layups, jump shots, and triples. She went 7-of-8 from the floor in the period. After Brock scored the first 17 points for the Beavers in the fourth, they still trailed 63-60 with nine seconds remaining. Bluffton came out of the timeout and got Breanna Graham (Springboro) open with enough space at the top of the key to drill a triple, knotting the score up at 63-63. Manchester called a timeout and ended up with a look to win the game, but the shot was no good and the wild contest went into overtime.
The overtime period saw junior Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade Julienne) take center stage! Mills put up 12 points in the overtime round as Bluffton never trailed in the extra session, winning in convincing fashion by the score of 77-69.
Brock led the Beavers with a career-high 29 points, going 11-of-20 from the field and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. Mills scored 21 points as she went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe while dishing out a team-high four assists. Parkins had her first collegiate double-double as she scored 10 points and pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds. Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) had 10 rebounds and two blocks in the victory.
Nicole Weaver led the home team with 14 points on the night. The Spartans had three players score seven points, and two others with eight and nine as they used a balanced attack. Beth Schaefer led Manchester with nine rebounds in the game.
Bluffton connected on 27-of-64, making 42.2 percent from the field. Manchester finished just 22-66 for 33.3 percent shooting. From long distance, the Beavers were an efficient 7-of-20 for 35 percent, while Manchester knocked down 7-of-17 for 41.2 percent. Both teams were solid from the free throw line as Bluffton went 16-of-20 for 80 percent, while Manchester tallied 18-of-22 for 81.8 percent at the line. Manchester pulled down one more rebound (43-42), but the Spartans also turned it over one more time (16-15).
The Beavers will complete the regular season at Franklin College in a game that tips at 2 P.M. on Saturday, Feb. 16. Let's go Beavers!