Bluffton takes home opener from women's hoops

Bluffton takes home opener from women's hoops

TIFFIN – Outside shooting woes and turnovers doomed the Heidelberg University women's basketball team in its home opener. The Student Princes amassed 19 turnovers and shot 4-of-22 from beyond the arc in an 82-69 loss to Bluffton University on Tuesday.

Marisa Liburdi notched her first double-double as a Student Prince, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Allie Hawkins and Theresa Jackson led HU with 15 points apiece.


With sloppy play on both sides, Heidelberg (1-2) and Bluffton (3-1) stayed even throughout the beginning of the half. A three-point play by Shelby Dearth brought Heidelberg to within one at 11-10.

From there, the purple-clad Beavers embarked on a 10-2 run that covered a span of three minutes and lead 21-12. The run was capped by a 3-pointer by Kaitlyn Pennekamp, who led BU with 15 points.

Jumpers by Dearth and Jackson cut the Bluffton lead to five with 6:44 remaining. However, in a 36-second span, a Taylor Knight layup and three-point play by Macey Sheerer pushed the Beaver lead back out to 10.

Bluffton led by as many as 14 in the half before Heidelberg began to close the gap. In the final minute, a 3-pointer by Kate Brickner and a layup by Hawkins cut the BU lead to seven at the half, 42-35.


The visitors opened the second stanza with a 14-3 run. The lone Heidelberg basket, a 3-pointer by Gina Miccinilli, was just the second HU long-range shot in 13 attempts.

Trailing by 18 with 13:48 remaining, Heidelberg inched back into the game. A 9-2 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Hawkins, brought the Tricolor back to within 11.

Buoyed by a strong night at the line, Bluffton inflated its lead back to 16 on a put-back by Brenna Kurilec.

After Kurilec's bucket, the Student Princes made their final charge of the evening. Thanks to a 12-4 run bookended by four free throws from Paige Ricketts, Heidelberg got to within 8 with little over four minutes to play.

Undaunted, the Beavers stayed steady and maintained a healthy lead. A 3-pointer by Pennekamp seemingly sealed the game, giving BU a 14-point lead with 2:22 to go.


Ricketts, in the top five of rebounding in the OAC, finished with nine boards.

Heidelberg won the battle on the glass, 44-37 (19-11 offensive).

Bluffton was 25-of-31 (80.6%) at the line. Heidelberg was 13-of-21 (61.9%).


Heidelberg head coach Morgan Shriver on HU's defensive woes: "We couldn't stop the penetration which was what we said was the number one key for us ... Our weakside rotation wasn't rotating quick enough. Defensively we see we have a lot to work on there.

Shriver about the turnovers: "We had a lot of turnovers and that's something we haven't been seeing a lot or that happens in practice so we have to pick up the pressure in practice against each other so that we're ready against better teams."

Shriver on the struggles from beyond the arc: "I don't ever want to shoot a 3 again unless we're over 20% ... Players are made outside of practice time and we don't have time in practice to work on shooting, so that's up to the girls whether they want to make the commitment to be better shooters ... Otherwise we don't have any business shooting threes if we're going to go 4-22."

Shriver on the game, overall: "I think the whole game came back to doing the little things right ... Everything we worked on in practice didn't seem to happen in the game and I don't know if it was nerves from our home opener, but it was just little thing after little thing after little thing. We tried to make runs and then we wouldn't stop them when we would make offensive runs."

Junior point guard Allie Hawkins on the team's weakness against Bluffton: "Team defense. We've been working the defense for five days straight and we came out there flat. Our on-ball defense was awful, our help was awful, so I think that really killed us. "

Hawkins on moving forward: "I love this team ... We can be a really good team and I think everyone saw that ... We have to come together and figure something out, work harder in practice."


After spending time with their families for Thanksgiving, the Student Princes return to action on December 3. Heidelberg travels to John Carroll University for the opening match of the Ohio Athletic Conference slate. The tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.