Black and Gold closes first half on the rise

Black and Gold closes first half on the rise

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Many superlatives highlighted Manchester University's 77-58 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win Wednesday, Jan. 21.

The Spartans, picking up a second successive HCAC victory inside Stauffer-Wolfe Arena, put five players in double figures, shot a blistering 61.2 percent from the field overall and just under 53 percent from outside the arc, out-rebounded the visiting Beavers 30-24 and used a strong defense to limit their opposition to less than 42 percent field goal shooting. All of those things added up to MU (4-12 overall, 3-6 HCAC) closing to within one game of the conference's top six.

A topsy-turvy first half saw each team hold the advantage over the opening 14-plus minutes. However, the home side served notice, to the delight of their crowd, that they were headed for big things in the final 5:10 of the opening frame. An 8-0 run turned a one-point Bluffton lead into a 35-28 MU halftime cushion. The Spartans continued the roll to open the second stanza, going on a 25-8 run over the first 10 minutes, and didn't look back.

Sophomore guard Chase Casteel (Monrovia, Ind.) tallied a career single-game high 24 points to guide the Black and Gold. Reeling off his fifth straight double-figure effort, he was nine-of-13 from the field which included hitting on four-of-seven three-point attempts while also grabbing six rebounds and blocking a BU shot attempt. Junior forward Matt Brown (Hobart, Ind.) also resumed an impressive personal string, earning his seventh double-figure scoring game in a row, behind a 16-point, six-rebound night. The guard trio of sophomore Blake Brouwer (Elkhart, Ind.), junior Brady Dolezal (Tipton, Ind.) and freshman Brody Kirby (Frankfort, Ind.) each chipped in 12 points.

MU opens the HCAC's second half by continuing a stretch of playing four of five at home Saturday, Jan. 24. Earlham College comes to North Manchester for a 4 p.m. start.

NOTES: The Spartans recent success has related to a stretch of five straight games in which they've had three-or-more players end in scoring double figures … Casteel's scoring and rebounding numbers have been an ethereal climb over the last five games. His scoring average is up nearly four full points (3.4 – 7.3) and his rebounding average has risen eight-tenths (3.1 – 3.9) in the span … Dolezal, coming back into the line-up after an injury had sidelined him for the last two weeks, picked up where he left off with his 12th double-figure points game in 13 appearances. The junior was five-of-nine from the field in 24 minutes … MU's victory marked their 13th in the last 22 against Bluffton University (8-8 overall, 4-5 HCAC).

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