ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. - The HU men’s basketball team faced their most formidable opponent of the season Saturday afternoon but still managed a double digit road win as they outlasted No. 25 Rochester College (Mich.) 66-53.
While it proved to be Huntington’s lowest offensive output of the season by nearly twenty points, Coach Platt’s squad got the job done defensively to keep their unblemished season intact at 8-0.
After a slow start for both teams as evidenced by the 4-4 deadlock through the first five minutes, it looked like the Foresters would run away with game as they spent the next nine minutes building a 19-point lead of 28-9 by the 6:33 mark but it wasn’t to be.
The Foresters hit an uncharacteristic wall and the Warriors were more than happy to take advantage of the nation’s top shooting team to cut into the lead.
HU’s only point came by way of Alec Peterson’s free throw with just under two minutes remaining in the period allowing Rochester to close the gap to 11, 29-18, by halftime.
The first four minutes of the second period was a wash as HU maintained its 11-point advantage but Huntington, behind Shane Merryman’s six points, pieced together a 13-2 run to grow the lead to 22 at 51-29 by the midway point.
TJ Short’s bucket down low gave Huntington their biggest lead of the night at 58-34 with 7:23 remaining. HU held onto to their advantage over the next four minutes but the Warriors didn’t go down without a fight as they finished on an 11-1 run to close to within 13 by the final buzzer.
Merryman scored 11 points in each half to finish with a game-high 22 points. He also enjoyed game-high rebounding honors with 13, five of which were offensive. Derek Hinen added 12 points and five assists while Peterson, playing for the first time this season, tossed in 11 points and ripped down five rebounds.
Stavros Schizas and Paris Pereira led the Warriors with 12 and 11 points respectively.
HU dominated the boards 32-21. They also outshot Rochester, 52.0 percent (26-for-50) to the Warriors’ 39.5 percent (15-for-38).
On the season, the Foresters are shooting 57.4 percent as a team. In addition to leading NAIA Division II in field goal percentage, Huntington also ranks #1 in assists per game (23.6) and defensive rebounds per game (25.4).
Other top ten rankings for Coach Platt’s squad include No. 2 in 3-point FG percentage (.505), total assists (189), assist/turnover ratio (1.85), No. 3 in total 3-point FG made (92), No. 4 in 3-point FG made per game (11.5), No. 5 in scoring margin (26.4) and No. 8 in scoring defense per game (64.1).
Huntington’s focus now turns to the Crossroads League as they open up conference play by hosting Marian University on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.