HUNTINGTON, Ind. – It
was a game in which they never trailed as the 19th-ranked Huntington
men’s basketball team (18-5, 8-3) dominated Spring Arbor University (10-13,
5-6), handing the Cougars a 79-66 loss Tuesday night at Platt Arena
Same game, different day. Just like their 75-62 win against the Cougars back on
December 3, the Foresters jetted out to an early lead to make for a lopsided first
half and then held their visitors at bay the final twenty minutes to enjoy
their second 13-point victory over SAU in as many outings.
Defense was the key to HU’s success in the opening period. The Foresters held
the Cougars to just 28 points on 33.3 percent shooting and used this momentum
to fuel their play at the other end of the floor where they exploded for 48
points. HU was 17-for-26 from the field for 65.4 percent which included going
6-for-10 behind the arc.
Seniors Shane Merryman and TJ Short made sure their team got off on the right
foot as they combined to score 18 of HU’s first 21 points to take a comfortable
21-8 lead by the 13:12 mark. Each scored nine points in the opening seven
minutes with Short’s all coming from downtown.
The Foresters continued to build on their lead the rest of the stanza, climbing
the lead to as many as 26 points before taking a 48-28 lead into intermission.
Merryman and Short each poured in 14 points while Derek Hinen chipped in ten
points as the trio accounted for all but ten of HU’s halftime points.
Huntington was never able to put Spring Arbor away as the pesky Cougars pieced
together a handful of runs in the second period to keep things interesting. SAU
trimmed the lead to 14 on two different occasions by the midway point of the half
but each time the Foresters made sure it got no closer.
Down 68-52 with just over five minutes remaining, the Cougars made one final
push. Behind a pair of treys from Rob Hogans, the league’s leading scorer, SAU generated
an 11-4 run to cut the lead to single digits at 72-63 with 3:08 to go.
HU withstood the Cougar charge to outscore their visitors by four in the final
three minutes to hang on for the program’s 20th win against SAU in the
last two decades against just 11 losses.
Merryman finished with 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting to go along with five
rebounds and four assists. Hinen had a solid performance of 21 points, seven
rebounds, six assists and two steals. Short added 16 points, eight boards and
three steals while Daniel Woll hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.
Hogans tossed in 23 points as SAU’s only double digit scorer.
Both teams knocked down 26 field goals but Huntington was more efficient,
shooting at a clip of 54.2 percent which included nine 3-pointers while their
visitors shot 41.3 percent and registered seven threes on the night. HU
dominated the boards 39-24 but struggled to take care of the ball, committing
19 turnovers to SAU’s ten.
The Foresters take the hardwood again on Saturday when they host Mount Vernon
at 3:00 p.m.