February 26, 2016
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University women's basketball team advanced to the HCAC Championship game for the first time in school history as they knocked off Transylvania, 71-60, in a semifinal contest at the Sommer Center on Friday, Feb. 26. With the victory, the Beavers improved to 24-2 on the season, while the Pioneers fell to 19-8. Rose-Hulman earned a 68-55 victory over Franklin in the nightcap which sets the stage for a clash between the regular-season co-champions on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The first quarter flipped back and forth for most of the stanza, before Bluffton senior Abby Jerger (Middletown/Madison) knocked down a big triple with 2:12 to play to give the Beavers a 13-9 advantage. The Pioneers got it to within two but a jumper from Taylor Knight (Perrysburg) gave the Beavers a 15-11 advantage after one.
The second period opened with a triple from Kaitlyn Pennekamp (Hamilton/Ross) to give Bluffton its largest lead of the contest at 18-11. The Beavers were still up 24-17 at the 6:37 mark before Transylvania rallied for seven straight counters to tie the game at 24 with 4:29 on the clock. Back-to-back buckets from Kaycee Rowe (Harrod/Allen East), followed by a Rachel Beining (Ottoville) layup and a freebie from Knight capped off a 7-0 Bluffton spurt to put the home team up 31-24, but Transy answered with six consecutive to make it a 31-30 deficit for the Pioneers heading into the locker room.
The Beavers started the third quarter with six straight points, including four from Macey Sheerer (Bucyrus) to take a 37-30 lead at the 7:34 mark. The Pioneers would continue battling back, scoring 10 of the game's next 12 to take their first lead since the first quarter, a 40-39 advantage with 5:04 to play in the third. Two Rowe freebies put Bluffton back on top and a Knight deuce made the score 43-40. The Beavers pushed it to seven on a bucket from Pennekamp for a 53-46 advantage after three.
Beining added another layup to give Bluffton a 55-46 lead to start the fourth. Transy trimmed it to six before buckets from Pennekamp and Sheerer gave Bluffton a 59-49 lead with 6:27 to go. The advantage hovered between 8-10 points for most of the quarter. Transylvania pulled within 65-58 with 3:18 to play before the Beavers converted 6-of-8 from the charity stripe to make the final tally 71-60.
The Beavers finished the night a respectable 48.1 percent (26-of-54) from the floor, as well as 85 percent (17-of-20) at the foul line. Bluffton also shared the sugar with assists on 23 of their 26 makes from the field. The Pioneers, however, shot just 35.5 percent (22-of-62) on field goals and 68.8 percent (11-of-16) from the free throw line. Bluffton committed seven turnovers compared to eight for the Pioneers, while Transylvania held a slight 36-35 rebounding edge, including grabbing 13 off the offensive glass.
Bluffton placed five in double figures, led by a monster contest from Rachel Beining who notched her 15th career double-double with 18 points and 11 boards while also dishing out a career-high six dimes. Kaitlyn Pennekamp chipped in with 16 counters and four rebounds off the bench, while Macey Sheerer added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Kaycee Rowe stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, six boards, and five dimes, while Taylor Knight added 10 counters with four rebounds and three assists.
Transylvania had four in double figures, led by 17 points from Celia Kline and 12 points and 12 rebounds from Rachel Cox. Lindsey Hieronymus scored 11 while KATELYN SMITH added 10.
The Beavers return to action on Saturday, Feb. 27 as they play for an HCAC title against the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Fightin' Engineers in the Sommer Center. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. Come support your Beavers as they are just 40 minutes away from their first-ever HCAC women's basketball title!