ANDERSON — “I think he was frustrated with how he played offensively in the first half.”
That’s what Anderson University men’s basketball head coach Owen Handy believes was one of the factors that motivated senior forward Cole Hartman’s second-half performance against Bluffton.
At halftime, Hartman had five points and four rebounds with Ravens up on the Beavers, 32-23. The second half would see the forward go off for 19 points and five boards to finish with a team-high 24 points and nine rebounds in a 69-61 win.
“He’s a good player and he’s tough as nails,” Handy said. “He came out, without me telling him any adjustments, figured out how they were guarding him and played a really good second half.”
Hartman said his teammates helped contribute to the finish in allowing him to have opportunities to score and handing off the ball when he couldn’t put it in.
“We moved the ball a lot and I got the ball in great position,” Hartman said. “They allowed me to score and if they doubled up on me, I could kick it out to shooters like Stanley Duncan or DeVante Mayes.”
Outside of Hartman’s strong offensive performance, the team had a strong day on defense shutting down the Beavers. The Ravens forced 14 turnovers and pulled down 25 defensive rebounds on the day.
“It has been rare in my tenure here that we won because we guarded people,” Handy said. “We usually win because we score, but today we won because we guarded people, so we’ll take it.”
The game opened with Anderson taking control almost immediately with Duncan, a senior guard, knocking down a three 10 seconds into the game. That sparked a 9-0 run by the Ravens, and the team held the advantage throughout the first half.
Three-pointers would be plentiful for the Ravens in the first half as they would shoot 5-for-9 from outside the arc to lead them to a nine-point advantage going into the locker room.
The second half saw the Beavers climb back into the game, pulling within one point at the halfway point of the period. Two made free throws by Isaiah Taylor would give Bluffton a two-point advantage, but a shot from outside the arc by Duncan allowed the Ravens to reclaim the lead.
“This was a big win for us because it's our home court and they’re a great team,” Handy said. “We always talk about you have to protect home floor, beat the teams that are in the bottom half of the league on the road and steal one more on the road. Right now, we’re on pace.”
With the win, Anderson ties with Bluffton for second place in the HCAC and will face Manchester at home on Thursday.
Hartman said that the team is looking to roll off this win into its next matchup.
“We’re just going to keep working hard in practice,” Hartman said. “Hopefully the success builds into the next team that we play and we can keep the momentum going into our next game.”