HUNTINGTON, Ind. - Colin Featherston’s driving layup with less than ten ticks remaining lifted the Forester men’s basketball team (4-4, 1-1) past Marian University 67-66 in HU’s conference home opener Tuesday night at Platt Arena.
Marian (3-3, 0-2) entered the contest averaging just over 74 points per contest while holding their opponents to 58 points but HU made sure they didn’t live up to their billing on either end of the court.
After giving up 40 points in the first 20 minutes, Huntington buckled down defensively to limit first-year head coach Todd Lickliter’s squad to 26 points in the second half.
The Foresters scored nine more points than the Knights’ had been allowing with Shane Merryman and TJ Short each tossing in 22 points to account for two-thirds of the Foresters’ offense. The duo also ripped down half of the team’s rebounds to finish with seven and six respectively.
Ryan Boester was HU’s only other double digit scorer with 11 points. He also dished out a game-high four assists and swiped a game-best four steals.
They say you live or die by the three-pointer and that proved true for the Foresters in the first period as they shot an impressive 72.7 percent from 3-point land with 24 of their 35 first half points coming from behind the arc. Boester and Short knocked down three apiece on 6-for-7 shooting to keep HU within striking distance at halftime 40-35.
The Foresters changed their focus to defense in the second period and their efforts paid off as they were able to mount an impressive come-from-behind win. They set the tone early with two steals in the first 30 seconds of the half to spur an 8-2 run to take a 45-42 lead at the 16:22 mark.
The next 14 minutes was an all-out battle that featured seven lead changes and three ties with the Knights hanging on to a slim 62-61 lead with just under three minutes remaining. Things seemed to be going the Marian’s way as they went on to build a five-point cushion of 66-61 with 1:38 remaining but HU’s defense came up big to hold MU scoreless the rest of the way.
Boester and Short each drained a pair of free tosses to pull Huntington within one at 66-65 with just over a minute remaining. It was the Featherston show after that as he ripped down a critical defensive rebound with less than 40 ticks remaining and then laid in the game-winner with the shot clock winding down to send the Knights packing.
Jason Riley led a balanced Marian attack with 15 points. Four others Knights scored in double digits with Dwight Cliff and Drew Adams each tossing in 12 and Jake Stafford and Jess Chadwell adding ten apiece.
HU shot 50.0 percent for the game (21-for-42) while the Knights drained 52.9 percent of their attempts (27-for-51). The Foresters enjoyed a slight 26-24 rebounding edge and scored 15 points from the charity stripe to Marian’s six.
The Foresters hit the road on Saturday to face 10th-ranked Grace College at 3:00 p.m.