RICHMOND, Ind. – The Earlham College men's basketball team came from behind to force overtime on Tuesday evening, but the Bluffton Beavers prevailed 88-87 in a tight game in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) action at Schuckman Court.
Earlham scored nine of the first 11 points fueled by five points from sophomore Darrell Hutchison and four from sophomore Nick Sands. Bluffton took its first lead at 16-15 on an Austin Rohde basket at the 11:29 mark. The Beavers were poised to take a 37-30 lead into halftime, but a jumper from freshman Kenneth Stalling Jr. got the Quakers within five at the break.
Bluffton (6-1, 1-1 HCAC) opened the second half on a 13-6 run and led 50-36 after two free throws from Jared Wentling.
Trailing by 14, junior Elijah Wilson-Thomas hit triples in three straight possessions to cut the deficit to 52-43 two minutes later. The Quakers would battle from behind for the following ten minutes until two Wilson-Thomas free throws tied the contest 65-65 with 3:49 to play in regulation.
Bluffton scored on its next three possessions and led 71-65, but Wilson-Thomas once again led the Quakers back with seven straight points including a go-ahead three-pointer with 39 seconds to play in the regulation.
Trey Elcherty gave the Beavers back a 74-72 advantage with a triple of its own, but two Wilson-Thomas free throws sent the game into overtime.
Wentling scored on Bluffton's first three possessions in overtime to give the Beavers a four-point lead. The Quakers would get within two points, 86-84 with 12 seconds to play, but Rohde sealed the game with two free throws on the following possession.
Wilson-Thomas finished with a game-high and season-high 30 points including 28 points after halftime. Hutchison equaled his career high with a 21-point performance.
Wentling led the Beavers with 27 points while Rohde had 19 and Elchert had 16.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field with Earlham making 30 baskets and Bluffton 29. With both teams finishing exactly 7-18 from distance, the Beavers made up the difference with three more free throws.
Earlham edged Bluffton 32-30 in rebounding, making the first time this season the Quakers have outrebounded their opponent.
The Quakers continue HCAC play at Franklin College on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.