BLUFFTON — If ever inexperience reared its ugly head it was Wednesday night at the Sommer Center at Bluffton University.
A deep and talented Mount St. Joseph team came to town and caught the Beavers with their best player sitting on the bench nursing a troublesome back.
The end result was a 72-58 win for the Lions in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play.
Thayne Recker (Arlington) a 6-foot-4 junior center, and the Beavers leading scorer, was unable to play and the result was rotations that Bluffton wasn’t used to and the lack of an inside game both on offense and defense. The Lions (9-3, 4-1 HCAC) took full advantage and shredded the Bluffton defense to the tune of 58 percent field goal shooting on 32-of-55 attempts.
Many of those shots came in close as the Lions were able to bet through the Beavers’ man to man defense for easy shots.
The Beavers (6-6, 2-3 HCAC) gave it their best but just couldn’t get a run, and the Lions steadily pulled away from the start before taking a 39-25 lead at the half.
The two teams battled to a 33-33 second half but Mount St. Joseph took a 68-47 lead late before Andrew Finley connected on four 3-pointers in the final 2:18 of the game to close the deficit.
“They were a pretty experienced and veteran team playing a young and inexperienced group missing their best player,” veteran Bluffton coach Guy Neal said. “We were very perimeter oriented tonight without Recker and the shots just didn’t fall. It’s tough to blend that many inexperienced players with veterans Ryan Ebbeskotte (a Delphos Jefferson grad) and Billy Taflinger (a Lima Central Catholic graduate).”
Finley’s late flurry made him the game-high scorer with 17 points while Taflinger chipped with a 16-point effort.
“We knew we had to bring energy tonight,” Taflinger said. “They were making shots, and we had trouble executing, and it showed in the final score.”
The Lions placed four players in double figure scoring for the night.
Femi Thompson led the way with 15 points while Joel Scudder added 14. Mark Allen totaled 11 points and Ken Kunkel totaled 10 points for the Lions.