BLUFFTON, OHIO - Despite a quick start, the Panthers fell in an overtime thriller on Saturday afternoon at Bluffton University 76-72. The Blue and Red move to 16-7 overall on the season and 10-6 in HCAC play, while the Beavers improve to 14-9 overall and 10-6 in Conference play.
Hanover saw three-players finish in double-figures led by junior Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) with 23 points and nine rebounds, while senior Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) registered a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Ty Houston (Union, Ky.) chipped in 12 points for the Panthers.
The Panthers set the tone early as they rattled off the games first eight points paced by Hibbard with back-to-back blows. The hot streak continued as Houston delivered a three-pointer at the 14:43 mark that pushed the HC advantage to 13-4. However, the Beavers weathered the storm as a pair of free throws from Jerred Kinnaird cut the deficit to three points.
Bluffton continued to charge cutting the Panther lead to 17-16 with 8:28 to play when junior Connor Washburn (Fishers, Ind.) went to work in the paint halting the comeback. The back-and-forth battle carried deep into the half as junior Mark Albers (Pendleton, Ind.) showed his range with a deep ball that kept the difference at 21-18 with 6:29 till the intermission. But the Beavers grit rained through as they were able to capture their first lead of the contest with 1:58 remaining 28-27.
Houston would deliver the shot Hanover needed in the final seconds of the half to propel HC to the 34-28 intermission lead. The Panthers entered the break shooting 48.1 percent (13-of-27) from the floor, including 5-of-7 from the charity stripe. Leading the first half charge was Houston with a perfect mark from the field netting 10 points.
His perfect mark continued as the freshman connected on a three-pointer before a Kevin Williams free throw and a senior Logan Ratts (Martinsville, Ind.) layup gave Hanover the double-digit advantage. However, Bluffton strung together a small run that saw the Hanover lead dwindle to just 46-43 with just under 10 minutes remaining. Sophomore Matt Weimer (Georgetown, Ind.) provided clutch down the stretch as he hit a three-pointer followed by a layup in the lane to extend the lead.
The Beavers slowly chipped at the advantage erasing a 60-53 deficit over a three-minute span to pull within 62-59 with just five second remaining in regulation. Andrew Renner provided the game tying dagger as time expired to force over time. Bluffton would deem to much in extra time as they used a 7-0 run to capture the conference victory.
The Blue and Red return to action on Wednesday, February 19 as they travel to Transylvania. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM.