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February 26, 2021

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Beavers improve to 14-4 with win over Transylvania

By Nathan Zuercher, sports information assistant
The Bluffton University woman's basketball team won a close bout Thursday, Feb. 18, against the visiting Transylvania University Pioneers.

The Beavers won by a score of 72-68, improving to 14-4 on the season, while Transylvania fell to 10-6. The Pioneers had won 10 straight over the Beavers, holding a commanding 38-7 advantage in the all-time series.

The Beavers started out hot in the first, outscoring the visitors by six for a 23-17 lead at the end of one. Junior forward Brianna Gillig (New Riegel) got going right away, netting 13 quick points. Sophomore marksman Sammy Shardo (Liberty-Benton/Findlay) made a major impact as well, knocking down two triples in the first stanza. At the end of one, Bluffton led 23-17.

In the second scoring stayed fast and furious for both squads. Maddie Fitzpatrick (Mount Gilead) scored six thanks to a pair of Beaver bombs. Fellow freshman guard Taylor Malson (Margareta/Castalia) added four off the bench, shooting a perfect 2-of-2 from the field in the second. The Beavers were up five going into the half (40-35).

Fitzpatrick stayed aggressive in quarter number three, scoring another six for the Beavers. Backcourt mate Shardo added three of her own and Gillig chipped in with two points as well as a rebound. The Bluffton lead was whittled to one, 51-50, heading to the final period.

In the fourth, Bluffton's frontcourt duo of Gillig and Emma Saltzman (Arcadia) took over the game. Gillig scored six more for the Beavers and she grabbed three rebounds. Gillig picked up her fifth foul in the game at the 3:40 mark and when she went to the bench, Saltzman willed the home team down the stretch with a big block and even a bigger shot with eight ticks left to put the Beavers up two. Her stuff and ensuing free throws gave the Beavers their first win over Transy since 2017.

Bluffton hit 23-of-63 from the field for 36.5 percent, compared to 29-of-74 (39.2 percent) for the Pioneers. Both teams knocked down five triples, but the Beavers made hay from the charity stripe, knocking down 21-of-24 for a steaming-hot 87.5 percent. The Pioneers dominated the paint with a 48-22 advantage and they pulled down one more rebound than the home team (44-43).

Gillig continued her standout season with 25 points and eight rebounds, leaving the junior just eight caroms shy of 500 for her career! Fitzpatrick and Shardo were both in double figures with 14 and 13, respectively. Saltzman scored seven points on just 1-of-7 shooting, but her reverse layup on the baseline with under nine seconds remaining was enough! She also ripped down a game-high nine boards. Fitzpatrick, who handed out a team-best four dimes, pulled down eight rebounds and Abbie Parkins (Bluffton) finished with seven.

The Beavers will enjoy a rare day off tomorrow before wrapping up the regular season with a trip to Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, Feb. 20. Tip-off in the Beck Center is slated for 2:30 p.m.