NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A crowd of better than 400 raucous fans got their money's worth and more Wednesday, Feb. 1, at Stauffer-Wolfe Arena.
Manchester University, beginning a big set of back-to-back Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference match-ups, overcame a strong bid by visiting Bluffton University for a road win. Trailing throughout the opening 20 minutes, the Black and Gold battled back and gained a six-point lead of their own midway through the second stanza. BU answered back and led 54-50 with less than four minutes to go, but Coach Gerad Good's squad rallied down the stretch, tying it at 56-56 and nearly winning in regulation as a three-pointer from sophomore guard Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) rolled around and out at the buzzer.
While just missing knocking down the game-winner, he and fellow guards, senior Tyler Alexander (Indianapolis, Ind.) and freshman Erik Bell (Evansville, Ind.), did plenty in the five extra minutes. Johnson, closing out a team-leading 23-point total, didn't miss from the field or free throw line, picked up a steal and grabbed a rebound; Alexander, as part of a monstrous 21-point, 11-rebound, three-steal contest, went three-for-four at the line, hit a field goal, grabbed two rebounds and picked up a steal; and Bell, winding up a 14-point, four-rebound night, hit a field goal, went three-for-four at the line, pulled down a board and picked up a steal to help influence an 18-10 run that led to a key 74-66 win.
Other strong numbers for MU (7-13, 5-8 HCAC) came from sophomore forward Evan Romie (Anna, Ohio) (seven points, two steals) and senior guard Chase Casteel (Monrovia, Ind.) (three blocked shots). The decision helped the Spartans solidify their hold on the sixth spot on the loop standings, keeping them firmly on the postseason tournament landscape.
Manchester University hosts co-HCAC-leading Hanover College Saturday, Feb. 4. Tip-off time at Stauffer-Wolfe Arena is 3 p.m.