Fails' lay-up gives Hanover buzzer-beater win at Bluffton

Cam Fails shooting

BLUFFTON, Ohio - Down one with 6.6 seconds remaining junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio) went the length of the floor and capped a career-high tying 29-point effort with contested game-winning lay-up as time expired to give the Hanover men's basketball team a 71-70 win over Bluffton Saturday afternoon.

The Beavers had just taken a timeout to set up their defense after a pair of free throws gave them a 70-69 lead, but Fails hit his 11th bucket of the game to extend the Panthers winning streak to seven games as they improved to 15-4 overall and 10-2 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. 

Down seven with 8:53 left to play in the game, Hanover used a 10-2 run to go in front 62-61. The final five minutes of the game then featured five ties and six lead changes as the two teams combined to make eight of 11 free throw attempts after combining to make only three of 11 in the first 35 minutes of action.  

With his game-winner, Fails tied his career-high by scoring 29 points for the second time in his career. The junior guard made 11 of 18 from the floor, including six of nine three-point attempts to go along with four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Over his last three games, he is averaging 25.7 points on 24 of 39 (61.5%) shooting from the field. Even more impressive, he's shot 76.5% (13 of 17) from beyond the three-point arc and 84.2% (16 of 19) from the free throw line, while only committing one turnover in 94 minutes of action. 

Junior Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) scored 11 points and had five rebounds, and senior Levi Buck (Pendleton, Ind.) and sophomore Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) added nine points each off the bench.

Leading 14-13 with just under 13 minutes left in the opening half, freshman Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) knocked down a three-pointer to spark a 9-3 run and give Hanover a 23-16 lead near the midway point of the half.

Bluffton (8-11, 5-7 HCAC) began to chip away and used a 9-2 run to grab a 32-29 lead with 2:38 to go, but the Panthers answered with a 10-2 run to close the half and take a 39-34 lead into the locker room at the intermission. 

The Beavers came out of halftime and out-scored Hanover 18-6 over the first 6:05 to take a 52-45 lead, and would push the lead to as many as 10 points (57-47) at the 10:35 mark, but that lead would slowly disappear as the Panhers rallied for the one-point victory.

While the two teams combined to shoot only 50.0% from the charity stripe, they both finished over 50% from the field with Hanover making 29 of 54 (53.7%) attempts, and Bluffton 29 of 53 for 54.7%. Both teams also shot well from long range as they combined to make 14 of 25 three-point attempts (56.0%). 

Only two points separated the teams in points in the paint and there was a five point difference in points off turnovers, but the Panthers had a 15-point advantage in bench points.

Hanover will return to the road Wednesday, Jan. 31 with an HCAC contest at Rose-Hulman. Tip off is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Hulbert Arena. 

Contact: Mike Pritchard