By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
HANOVER, Ind. - The Bluffton University women's basketball team lost a hard-fought battle against the Hanover Panthers by the score of 64-59 on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The loss ended Bluffton's season as the Beavers finished 9-17 overall and 7-11 in HCAC play. The #3 seed Hanover women advance to play #2 seed Rose-Hulman Friday night at Transylvania in the semifinals of the HCAC tournament.
The first quarter was a high-scoring battle as both teams were getting things done at the offensive side of the floor. At the end of one round, Hanover led Bluffton by the score of 22-18. Freshman Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) had it going as she put up eight first quarter points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor.
After going down 28-20 early in the second quarter, Bluffton responded with a 7-0 jag capped off by a Kylie Brock (Villa Hills, Ky.) triple with 7:07 remaining in the period. The Beavers would continue to play solid on both ends, getting stops and scoring in spurts, and headed into the halftime horn leading 37-34. Bluffton forced Hanover into shooting just 5-of-15 from the floor in the second period, while Bluffton was a red-hot 9-for-16 on field goals.
In the third stanza, the scoring slowed down on both ends. Bluffton was clinging to its lead until an Alexis Nall layup with 1:42 remaining put the home team up, 46-45. That would be the score at the end of three rounds.
Bluffton never led in the final period, but the Beavers certainly didn't go down without a fight. A pair of Breanna Graham (Springboro) freebies with 3:50 to play made it a two-point game at 55-53, but Hanover finished it off with a 9-6 advantage the rest of the way to secure a 64-59 victory.
Gillig led the Beavers with a career-high tying 22 points, going an efficient 11-of-17 from the field, while also pulling down 10 rebounds for her second career double-double. Brock scored 17 for the visitors, hitting 7-of-16 from the floor. Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade Julienne) was facilitating for the Beavers as she tied her career best with nine dimes. Freshman Emma Saltzman (Arcadia) cleaned the glass with a career-high 10 boards.
Katie Hartman led Hanover with 20 points, going 7-of-13 from the floor. Nall canned 15 points, hitting 7-for-10 from the floor, and she pulled down 11 rebounds. Savannah Courtney snatched a game-high 14 rebounds for the home team, while Claire Cromer dished out a team-high five assists.
Bluffton shot 27-of-62 for 43.5 percent from the field. Hanover went 24-of-57 for 42.1 percent. The Beavers struggled mightily from three-point range, going just 1-of-15 for 6.7 percent. Hanover went 5-of-18 for 27.8 percent. The Panthers pulled down nine more rebounds (39-30). The visitors scored 34 of their 59 paints in the paint, but Hanover's zone locked up Bluffton in the second half.
Being shorthanded with injuries to Nora Hemminger (McComb), Lj Olverson (Cincinnati/Princeton) and Chelsea Moore (Olentangy) and still putting up an effort like they did showed the fight the women have displayed all year. Go Beavers!