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Bluffton repels late Spartan charge

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND, - Manchester University put four players in double figures Thursday, Feb. 6, to highlight a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference clash with Bluffton University.

MU rallied back from a pair of 12-point deficits. The second such rally, an 11-1 stretch from the 6:01 to 00:07 marks of the second half, put the Spartans (5-15 overall, 4-9 HCAC) down only 56-54. After junior guard Grant Newlin (Muncie, Ind.) hit one of two free throws, sophomore forward Jarod Schrock (Logansport, Ind.) grabbed the rebound and fed freshman guard Chase Casteel (Monrovia, Ind.). Casteel, with four seconds left, let go of a three-point bucket that rimmed out, and Bluffton (8-12, 4-9 HCAC) got the rebound, hitting two free throws after a foul to seal the 58-54 win.

Freshman guard Blake Brouwer (Elkhart, Ind.) recorded his first collegiate double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while junior forward Jon Thompson (Rushville, Ind.) continued his impressive play with 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Sophomore guard Brady Dolezal (Tipton, Ind.) chipped 11 points, and Newlin ended with 10 points to round out the home side's double-figure quartet.

The final statistics bore out how close the contest was. Both teams hit just over 36 percent from the field, below 25 percent from outside the arc and in the upper 60s from the free throw line. A 41-32 rebounding advantage for the visitors was key, as the inside duo of senior Will Pope and sophomore Thayne Recker combined for 19 boards and 17 points.

Manchester University wraps up a five-game homestand Saturday, Feb. 8. League-leading Rose-Hulman comes to North Manchester for a 5 p.m. tipoff.

NOTES: Dolezal extended his double figure scoring streak to eight games …  Brouwer registered his ninth double-figure scoring contest, including his second in the last three contests. The 11 rebounds were a personal single game high … Thompson ended in double digits for the eighth time in 10 games this year. … With five games remaining, the Black and Gold are part of a three-way tie for seventh, just a game behind Transylvania University for the sixth and final conference postseason tournament spot.