By: Takayla Gadberry, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team welcomed back Westminster College for day two of the McDonalds Holiday Classic on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. Bluffton defeated Westminster 70-54. The Beavers improved to 8-2, while the Titans dropped to 10-2 after entering the tournament with a spotless 10-0 mark.
Bluffton controlled the tip but Westminster would score first with a Kayla Bennett jump shot. The Beavers answered back when Sammy Shardo (Findlay/Liberty Benton) got to the rack. A Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) bucket followed by two Emma Saltzman (Arcadia) and Nora Hemminger (McComb) freebies gave the Beavers a 15-13 advantage at the end of the first period. A Titan layup evened the score at 15-15 early in the second quarter before a 14-5 run from the Beavers gave them a 29-20 advantage at the half.
A Mills triple expanded Bluffton's lead to 11 (34-23). Shardo, Hemminger, and Mills all knocked down threes to put the Beavers up 49-36 with 2:19 left in the third. A bucket in the paint from Abbie Parkins (Bluffton) sent Bluffton into the final quarter up 53-39. Ten points from Mills and two freebies for Gillig pushed the Beavers to 66-49. A Parkins jumper and two free throws for Shardo capped off the 70-54 home team victory.
Mills, who was named the McDonald's Classic MVP, led the Beaver offense as she put up a career-high tying 22 points. Gillig and Shardo, who was named to the all-tournament team after a record-setting seven triples on Saturday, tallied 15 and 10 markers, respectively. Parkins and Gillig controlled the glass, pulling down eight rebounds apiece. Hemminger added seven boards in the victory.
Bluffton had the upper hand in shooting as the Beavers went 25-of-61 (41 percent) from the field and 5-of-14 (35.7 percent) from distance, compared to Westminster's 23-of-62 (37.1 percent) and just 3-of-15 (20 percent). They also did better at the stripe as Bluffton drained 15-of-21 (71.4 percent) with the Titans only connecting on 5-of-13 (38.5 percent). The Beavers also pulled down two more boards (42-20) while forcing five more turnovers (15-10).
The women will get a short break for New Years before they jump back into Heartland Conference action when Transylvania comes to town on Saturday, Jan. 4. Tip-off in the Sommer Center is slated for 1 p.m. with the men's game to follow at 3 p.m. Go Beavers!