JOLIET, Ill. - It wasn’t exactly how the Forester men’s basketball team had hoped to open their season as they dropped an 86-60 decision to the University of St. Francis (Ill.) Saturday afternoon.
Long-range shooting proved to be the difference in the game as 12 of the Fighting Saints’ 32 field goals came from behind the arc while HU was held to 1-for-10 shooting from 3-point land.
The Foresters only two leads of the day came in the opening minutes as St. Francis wasted no time taking control of the contest behind the play of Chris Miller who finished with a game-high 28 points.
Three other Saints finished in double digits including Andrew Lerg with 16, Billy Hubly with 13 and Mark Peters with ten.
The Fighting Saints enjoyed their largest lead of the first half at 21-10 with 12 minutes remaining but a traditional three-point play by Alec Peterson at the 8:30 mark spurred an 8-3 run as HU trimmed the lead to six at 26-18 with just over six minutes remaining. The Foresters stayed within striking distance the rest of the half to trail 33-28 at break.
The second half was a different story as USF drilled four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the period to open up a 52-33 lead that HU never recovered from. The Saints shot 18-for-28 (64.3 %) for the period to grow their lead to as many as 31 before cruising to the lopsided win.
USF finished with eight turnovers while forcing 16 HU miscues. Huntington’s only statistical advantage came at the free throw line where the visitors got to the line 31 times to outscore the Fighting Saints 21-10.
Shane Merryman paced HU with 21 points and six rebounds. Tyler Ault was the only other Forester to log double digits with 12. Stephen Jones pulled down five boards and dished out a team-high three assists.
The Foresters (0-1) hits the road again on Tuesday to take on Great Lakes Christian College at 7:00 p.m.