DEFIANCE, Ohio – Josh Eichar's layup with four seconds remaining gave Bluffton a two-point lead and Mike Floyd's desperation three-point heave at the horn missed its mark, leaving Defiance with a disappointing, 59-57, loss to the Beavers on Senior Night.
Defiance seemed poised to take control of the game after netting the first five points of the second half to open a 37-30 advantage, but the offense dried up over the final 18 minutes to allow Bluffton to work back into the action.
The Jackets mustered only 20 more points on 30.4-percent shooting the rest of the way and missed all eight attempts from the three-point line. The shooting woes proved especially costly at the charity stripe, where DC missed half of its 14 attempts in the final stanza.
Bluffton capitalized with a 14-2 run to claim the 44-39 lead with 12:58 left in the game and maintained at least a share of the lead for all but 84 seconds the rest of the way. BU's final push opened a 57-53 lead with 2:25 showing on the clock but the DC squad refused to go away.
Anthony Pettaway became the 15th player in Defiance history to eclipse the 1,400-point barrier for a career and sliced the four-point deficit in half with a bucket on DC's next touch. Nick Sales then drew the Jackets even at 57-57 with 1:26 to play.
Defiance then had a chance to take the lead, after stopping the Beavers on their next touch but Eichar stripped Pettaway to give Bluffton the ball with 35 ticks left on the clock.
With the shot clock off, BU held the ball and set up for the final shot. The Beavers' worked it to perfection with Colt Cunningham finding a wide-open Eichar under the hoop for the game winner with four seconds to play.
Defiance struggled with Bluffton's aggressive play all game long and failed to win the battle of the boards for just the fifth time all year, while allowing BU to chase down 11 offensive caroms. The undersized Bluffton squad also shot nearly 50 percent inside the arc and racked up 30 points in the paint.
Sales was one of the few bright spots on the night for DC, turning in 24 points, 10 boards and three assists. Pettaway also turned in a double-double with a 13-point, 12-rebound effort and Floyd dished out six assists.
With the 13 points, Pettaway now stands at 1,401 for his career and is now 89 points shy of a top-10 mark in Defiance history.
Defiance (16-8, 11-4 HCAC) saw its hopes of defending its HCAC regular season championship come to an end with the loss and will now enter the HCAC Tournament as the third-seeded team in the six-team event.
DC will round out its regular season on Saturday with a 4:00 pm tip at conference-leading Franklin (16-8, 13-2 HCAC) and will then host the sixth-seeded Hanover Panthers (9-15, 6-10 HCAC) on Tuesday at 7:30 pm in the HCAC Quarterfinals.