NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Manchester wrapped up the first half of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play with a big victory over league-leading Bluffton University on Wednesday night in Stauffer-Wolfe Arena. The Spartans upset the Beavers by a final score of 74-68.
Despite trailing by as much as 10 points in the opening half, the Spartans used a big run to take control of Wednesday's contest. Trailing 27-18 with just over five and a half minutes to play in the first half, Manchester University used a 15-3 run to steal a 33-30 lead at the break. Both teams shot an identical 13-of-28 from the floor in the opening period.
Both teams battled back and forth, trading leads in the early stages of the second half. With the score 56-53 in favor of Manchester, the Spartans used a 10-4 run over four minutes of game time to distance themselves from the visiting Beavers. Manchester University built its largest lead of the night of 10 with just over 30 seconds remaining in the contest.
Four Spartans finished in double figures in Wednesday's win. Cornell Hampton (Griffith, Ind. / Griffith) led the Spartans with a double double, finishing with a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind. / Fall Creek) added 15 points and seven assists. Nathan Carbaugh (Fort Wayne, Ind. / North Side) added 13 points and four rebounds. Cortiz Buckner (Lafayette, Ind. / Lafayette Jefferson) continued his hot play, scoring in double figures for the fifth consecutive game with 11 points. Buckner also provided a key spark off the bench with aggressive on-ball defensive that forced several Beaver turnovers. Buckner also converted 7-of-9 free throw attempts.
For the game, Manchester shot 50 percent (25-50) from the floor and was 6-of-12 from downtown. The Spartans also made 18-of-22 free throw attempts, good for an 81.8 percent mark. Bluffton was 29-of-52 from the floor for 55.8 percent. The Beavers also made six three-pointers but were 4-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Andrew Rich scored 21 points to lead the Beavers.
With the win on Wednesday, Manchester University improved to 6-10, 3-6 HCAC. Bluffton fell out of first place in the HCAC and dropped to 11-4, 6-3 HCAC this season. MU will continue its three-game homestand this weekend against Earlham College. Tip-off between the Spartans and Quakers is scheduled for Saturday January 19 at 4 p.m. in Stauffer-Wolfe Arena.