Ind. – While all of the other Crossroads games were postponed Tuesday night,
the No. 14 Forester men’s basketball team didn’t let the snow and cold stop
them from making the trip to Luckey Arena to take on the No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan
University. It was a battle for the top spot in the league and for the second
time this season, the Wildcats came out on top, 82-71, to claim sole possession
of first for the time being.
Both teams now share an identical overall record of 20-5 but Huntington drops
to 9-4 in league play while IWU improves to 10-3.
The numbers tell the story. The Foresters entered the contest shooting nearly 51
percent from the field but tonight Coach Platt’s squad struggled to put the
ball in the hole, especially compared to their hosts. HU shot an
uncharacteristic 41.9 percent (26-for-62) for the game while the Wildcats
sizzled the nets for 56.8 percent (25-for-44).
Even more glaring was what happened with the clock stopped as IWU got to the
line 32 times, converting 27 of those attempts for 84.4 percent while their visitors
struggled to find their way there. HU finished 10-for-16 for 62.5 percent.
For all but 60 seconds, it was a two-possession game throughout the first half
with the Wildcats holding the upper hand. The Foresters forced four ties but
couldn’t get over the hump as they never held a lead in the first twenty
minutes. Seniors Shane Merryman and TJ Short scored 16 and ten points
respectively to keep their team within striking distance, 39-37, at break.
Huntington came out of the locker room with renewed energy to force two more
ties in the midst of taking the lead on two different occasions. An Alec
Peterson put back at the 17:41 mark gave his team a 43-42 advantage but it wasn’t
long before IWU reclaimed the lead, this time for good.
The pesky Foresters never went away but when both bigs fouled out, Daniel Woll
at the 11:44 mark and Alec Peterson just over two minutes later, HU made only
final push to pull within one at 60-58 with just over eight minutes remaining before
Wesleyan bullied their way down low to gradually pull away for the double digit
Merryman finished with a game-high 28 points to go along with seven rebounds. Short
added 12 points. After a quiet first half, Derek Hinen scored all ten of his
points in the final twenty minutes. He also handed out a game-best nine assists
to finish one handout shy of a double double.
RJ Mahurin led a balanced Wildcat attack with 19 points. Lane Mahurin and Jordan
Weidner each tossed in 17 and Nathan Bubash came off the bench to score 15.
The Foresters will look to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Goshen
to take on the Maple Leafs at 3:00 p.m.