By: Joseph Watkins, sports information assistant
DELAWARE, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team traveled to Ohio Wesleyan University on Tuesday, Dec. 17, to take on the Battling Bishops in a non-conference tilt. After coming back from an 11-point deficit, the Beavers were unable to finish off the comeback bid. The visitors came up just short, 68-63, in their final matchup before the holiday tournament. Bluffton slipped to 6-2 overall, while OWU improved to 5-4 on the season.
The Beavers struggled with a sluggish start, digging an early 11-2 hole after an Ohio Wesleyan bucket with just under six minutes to play in the first quarter. Despite the early deficit, Bluffton would fight back as Abbie Parkins (Bluffton) knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 19-15 after one period.
The visitors continued their hot shooting into the second quarter, rattling off the first five points en route to their first lead of the game when Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) dropped one in to make the score 20-19 with 8:02 left in the first half. OWU did not cave, opening their largest lead of the half when Erica Sardinha's deuce made it 33-23 in favor of the home team with under three minutes on the clock. Bluffton stormed right back and made it a two-point game when Nora Hemminger (McComb) got to the rack to make it 33-31 at the break.
Bluffton knotted it up on the first basket of the third period when Gillig tied the score at 33. However, the home team controlled the pace and outscored the Beavers 17-12 in the third, taking a 50-43 lead into the final quarter.
Although the Battling Bishops extended their lead to 11 when Julia Kopp split a pair of free throws to make it 57-46, the Beavers did not give up and would battle to the very end. The visitors cut the deficit all the way down to two when junior Kylie Brock (Villa Hills, KY/Dixie Heights) picked up a steal and took it the other way to make the score 59-58 with 3:29 left to play. After a nice comeback bid from the Beavers, the home team was too much in the end as OWU wrapped up the 68-63 victory.
Gillig led three Beavers in double figures with a team-high 17 points. The sophomore was 6-of-14 from the field and also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Senior Tj Mills (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) chipped in 12 points of her own while dishing out a game-high seven dimes. Hemminger also notched 10 points off the bench for the Beavers.
Bluffton went 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) from the field, but just 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from distance. OWU finished 28-of-63 (44.4 percent) from the field, and 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from behind the arc. The Beavers turned the ball over three more times than the home team (19-16). OWU also pulled down six more rebounds (37-31).
The Beavers will spend the next week with their families for Christmas before returning to the court on Saturday, Dec. 28, for night one of the McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Classic. Bluffton is slated to play Cairn at 5 p.m. before matching up with Westminster on Sunday, Dec. 29.