MONROE — Bluffton guard Kevin Moser knocked down a triple and Josh Moriarity put back a miss to give Bluffton five points.
That was it for the first half.
The Tigers struggled mightily against the AC 2-3 zone and faced an 18-5 halftime deficit. The Jets would hold on to the conference win, 42-28.
The win gives Central a 3-1 mark in the ACAC breaking the six-way tie in the conference including Bluffton. The AC/Bluffton game was the only game that did not get postponed due to weather on Friday night.
"With all of the other games cancelled tonight in the ACAC I guess we're first place in the conference!" joked AC coach Aaron McClure. "We've got some tough games ahead of us and we're going to be tough pressed to win the rest of our conference games so we've got a lot of work still to do."
As both teams came out with their 2-3 zone looks defensively, there were a lot of patient possessions in the first half where both teams were trying to poke and prod their way into good shot attempts.
Nick Baumer was the recipient of the first bucket of the game on a nice interior feed from Anthony Spangler plus the foul giving AC the 3-0 lead. It would balloon to 9-0 after another Baumer bucket, a Blade Kable lay-up off a nice pass from Hayden Black, and putback from sophomore David Fox.
Moser's triple with 30 seconds in the quarter saved Bluffton from a scoreless first eight minutes as they trailed 9-3.
The second quarter played out almost identically for AC as they outscored the Tigers 9-2 in the frame. A Kable three made it 12-3 before Moriarity put in the only basket of the second quarter on a missed trey try.
Spangler made three points the old fashioned way with a lay-up plus the foul for a 15-5 lead. The teams would trade misses in the final three minutes and with under 10 seconds, Black would block Aaron Sturgeon's three try and race down court where he would find Kable on the wing for a deep three at the buzzer. The shot put the Jets up 13 going into the break.
"They got a late three at the end of the first and then a late field goal in the second but to go into the halftime only giving up five points was nice," noted McClure on his teams' defense. "We were very pleased with that effort defensively."
The Jets committed their first foul of the game with just 23 seconds left in the first half as the Tigers were content to take outside shots with few penetrating shot attempts in the game.
Bluffton would score the first four points of the third quarter on a few Jet miscues but Black would make a lay-up putting the lead to 20-9. After a Kable free throw, Black threw an alley-oop pass to Baumer from the three-point line, then followed it up with an and-one on the Jets' next possession for a 17-point lead at 26-9.
The Tigers finally made double digits at the 2:20 mark of the third quarter but Luke Voirol made his only shot of the game in the post to push the lead back to 17. Moser would hit another triple to make it 30-14 but Black would strike again with a fadeaway 10-foot jumper at the buzzer for AC who led by 18 before the fourth.
Coach McClure was pleased with his teams' lead going into the fourth quarter. "I was a little surprised by the lead we had down the stretch. I anticipated a 4-5 point game in the fourth quarter but Bluffton just had trouble shooting the ball and that's something they won't do every night."
The Jets held their largest lead of the game early in the fourth as Kable made a free throw, then got his own rebound and put in a lay-up for a 35-16 advantage.