HUNTINGTON, Ind. – It seemed only appropriate that seniors Shane Merryman and TJ Short would lead the No. 12 HU men’s basketball team over Taylor University 55-44 Saturday afternoon at Platt Arena on senior day.
Merryman topped all scorers with 19 points. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and tallied two assists and just as many steals. It marks his ninth double double of the year, the 22nd of his Forester career. Short finished with 11 points, which included a trio of triples, and three rebounds.
Huntington finishes the regular season 24-6 overall, 13-5 in the Crossroads League and will open the conference tourney at Platt Arena on Wednesday as the third seed against 6th-seeded Grace College.
The first half was a defensive struggle with the Foresters getting the better end of the low-scoring affair. They limited the Trojans to just six field goals on 30.0 percent shooting to take a 24-15 lead into intermission.
While HU only knocked down two more shots than their visitors in the period, they outscored TU from the line 6-3 and registered two long balls to make for the nine-point difference. Merryman registered 12 points to account for half of his team’s offensive output in the opening twenty minutes.
When all was said and done, the second stanza proved to be an evenly matched contest but not before the Trojans pieced together a few runs to come within two possessions of the Foresters on a handful of occasions over the final ten minutes.
Down 35-22 at the 11:26 mark, Taylor scored seven consecutive points to shave the lead to six at 25-39 with just over eight minutes remaining. They stayed within striking distance, cutting it to six three more times over the next several minutes before Daniel Woll scored on back-to-back possessions to give his Foresters a little breathing room at 46-36 with 3:34 remaining.
Short delivered the back-breaker the next time down the floor when he drained one from deep with the shot clock winding down for a 49-36 advantage. The Foresters would go up by as many as 17 before settling for the 11-point victory.
Derek Hinen finished with 11 points as the only other double digit scorer for the Foresters. He also handed out a game-high six assists and corralled five rebounds.
Jesse Coffey paced Taylor with ten points while Ben Raichel and Kyle Stidom each added nine.
Huntington finished 15-for-42 for 35.7 percent from the field while Taylor shot 33.3 percent (14-for-42). Coach Platt’s crew out-rebounded TU 33-28 and committed 11 turnovers to their visitors’ 14. They also outscored Taylor 20-12 at the line and 18-10 in the paint.