After trailing for 35 minutes of the contest, the NAIA Division II 14th-ranked Huntington University Foresters showed some grit and determination outlasting the Marian College Knights 57-55 for a hard-fought victory.
Huntington got off to a slow start offensively immediately falling behind the Knights 8-3 through the first five minutes of play. The Foresters were within three at 12-9 when Marian put together a 17-7 run to take its largest lead of the game at 29-16 with 7:26 to go in the half. Huntington then switched defenses and went with a zone to try to slow the Knights down. The adjustment worked as the Foresters were able to close the gap and headed to the break down just four at 36-32.
When the two teams emerged from the locker room, it was Marian who once again gained control of the momentum and used it to push the advantage back to nine four minutes into the period. The Foresters again switched things up on the defensive end and had it pay off. HU held the Knights scoreless for four minutes and evened things up at 45-45 with 11:33 to play. A Jessica Carr trey put Marian back in front with 9:45 on the clock, but Huntington knotted the score at 49 and then took its first lead of the contest at 51-49 on two charity tosses by Sarah Miller at the 4:53 mark.
Down the stretch, both teams had an answer each time the other scored. Kristin Houck drained two free throws to tie the game at 51. The Foresters battled on the boards with four consecutive offensive rebounds that finally led to a Lauren Davenport jumper in the paint to put Huntington back in the lead at 53-51. Megan Egenolf evened it up with a driving layup at Marian’s end at the 1:28 mark. Davenport and Egenolf traded baskets again to make it 55-55 with 31.9 seconds remaining. The Foresters milked the clock and Miller put up a three with five seconds to play. The shot was off the mark, but Courtney Beerbower was fouled on the rebound with 3.8 on the clock. Beerbower, who had missed three of her last four free throws, stepped to the line and hit nothing but net twice. The Knight’s failed to get a shot off before the final buzzer giving Huntington the 57-55 victory.
Beerbower was the lone Forester to reach double figures as she matched her season high with 20 points. Egenolf paced Marian with 19 points and Carr finished with 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. The Knights won the battle of the boards 48-34, but Huntington had just seven turnovers in the game while forcing the Knights into 18 miscues.