BLUFFTON — It wasn’t Rachel Beining’s normal role.
But it definitely worked out.
The 6-foot Ottoville grad normally starts for the Bluffton University women’s basketball team.
However, Wednesday’s Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference match-up with Mount St. Joseph University at the Sommer Center was Senior Night.
So, Beining cordially made room for the seniors to start.
But once Beining got onto the court, she quickly made her presence known.
Beining scored eight of her 14 total points in the first half, to help lead Bluffton to a convincing 71-45 victory over Mount St. Joseph.
Beining also came away with seven rebounds, three steals and two assists from her post position.
Along with Beining, teammates Taylor Whitaker (14) and Macey Sheerer (12) also scored in double figures.
“They count on me to be a presence in there,” Beining said. “They want me to rebound the basketball and be aggressive.”
Bluffton (15-7, 10-5 HCAC) jumped out quickly on St. Joseph (5-17, 1-14), building a commanding 33-18 lead by the break.
St. Joseph struggled in the first half, connecting on just 17 percent of its shots from the field. The Lions ended the game shooting 26 percent.
In the second half, Bluffton got out into transition often. Bluffton’s defense helped cause nine second-half turnovers for St. Joseph. For the game, the Lions turned the ball over 17 times.
“I thought the key in the second half was that we hit some shots,” Bluffton coach Chad Shutler said. “I thought Rachel (Beining) played a great second half — passing the ball, posting up and rebounding. We just needed that momentum to get to 10, 15, 20 (points). …Then we could relax a little bit.”
For the game, Bluffton shot 41 percent from the floor. In the second half, alone, the Beavers connected on 48 percent of its shots.
Bluffton won the battle on the boards, 44-35.
St. Joseph had just one player score in double figures. Brilyn Webb led the way with 16 points.
In all, Bluffton had 10 players crack the scoring column.
“I think depth has been the key,” Shutler said. “To play with 9, 10 kids at this pace and to maintain this level with the top of the league is critical.”
Bluffton came into Wednesday’s game tied for third with Franklin in the HCAC. Transylvania leads the conference at 14-0 (20-1 overall).
The goal for Bluffton is to finish as high as possible in the conference, to set up a good seed for the conference tournament.
“We finished fourth last year and we returned a bulk of that group,” Shutler said. “So, we have high expectations and we expected to be here. They worked hard in the offseason and deserve to be where they are at. The key is to keep continuing this for the next couple weeks. We haven’t reached the pinnacle yet. We still want to compete and position ourselves in the conference tournament.”