A four-point possession brought the Yellow Jackets back to within a single possession as Nick Sales made a free throw before missing his second attempt. Matt Muratori chased down the offensive rebound and then found Mike Floyd for a long-distance jumper to narrow the Bluffton advantage to 54-51.
Bluffton bounced back by rattling off an 8-2 spurt to take its largest lead of the night at 62-53 on a layup from Josiah Stober at the 7:46 mark.
Defiance clamped down on defense from that point on, holding BU to just one basket the rest of the way. During that stretch, DC throttled Bluffton with a 12-0 run to claim the 65-62 lead with 49 seconds left in regulation.
The Bluffton scoring drought ended 11 seconds too soon for the Yellow Jackets as a Mike Anthony three tied the game with 11 ticks left on the clock, giving the Beavers their first points in seven minutes and 35 seconds of action and forcing the overtime session.
A three from Anthony Jackson gave Defiance its first lead of the extra frame at 70-69 with 2:02 to play, but Bluffton tied the game at 70-70 on a free throw from Nick Wilson.
That set the stage for more last-second heroics from Anthony as Bluffton’s standout forward silenced the capacity crowd yet again with a jumper with two seconds left in the game.
DC’s desperation half-court shot was on line, but bounced off the front rim as Bluffton edged out the Yellow Jackets for the 72-70 win.
Anthony ended the game with just 13 points but hit the two biggest shots of the night for the Beavers. Wilson led Bluffton with 17 points and Eric Schwieterman tallied 12 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Pettaway scored six of his team-leading 19 points during DC’s 15-0 rally in the closing minutes and pulled down nine rebounds in 38 minutes. Sales posted his seventh double-double with 12 points and 12 boards and swatted four Beaver shots for a new career high.
C.J. Johnson joined Pettaway and Sales in double figures with 17 points and Mike Floyd turned in eight points and six helpers, while Jackson added seven points.
Defiance (13-6, 7-5 HCAC) will look to shake this loss and avenge an 80-62 road loss at Mount St. Joseph earlier this season when it hosts the Lions (10-9, 7-4 HCAC) on Saturday at 3:00 pm.