INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Knights of Marian University are at their best on their home court and Tuesday night was no different as they outscored the Huntington men’s basketball team by 15 in the second half to mount an impressive 82-72 win Tuesday at night at the Physical Education Center.
MU has won eight of their last nine home contests to improve to 13-8 overall and 5-6 in CL play while the Foresters fall to 12-11 overall, 3-8 in conference play.
On paper the Foresters looked sharp, shooting 58.7 percent (27-for-46) for the game and committing a mere 11 turnovers. They held a slight 21-20 advantage on the boards and knocked down 12 of their 16 free tosses.
But Marian filled the stat sheet with even more stunning numbers, coughing up the ball only six times and converting 83.3 percent (10-for-12) of their freebies. Headlining the night was the Knights’ work behind the arc. They sizzled the nets for 55.6 percent (10-for-18) from three-point land on their way shooting 60.8 percent overall.
The first 15 minutes of the night was a back and forth battle that featured 17 lead changes and four ties in which neither team claimed more than a three-point advantage. Down 26-24 with just under five minutes on the clock, the Foresters pieced together the half’s biggest run, a 9-0 spree, sparked by TJ Short’s jumper to give the visitors a 32-26 lead with 3:10 remaining.
The closing minutes of the half was a three-point fest as the Knights knocked down the long bomb on three of their final four possessions to pull within two at 37-35 with eight ticks remaining but Tyler Ault wanted in on the action as his buzzer-beating heave from 40 feet out found nothing but the bottom of the net to send the Foresters into the locker room with a 40-35 advantage.
HU carried the momentum into the final stanza by pushing the lead to seven on two different occasions within the first three minutes of play but the tides started to slowly turn when Jake Stafford took matters into his own hands. The 6-4 forward scored his team’s first two buckets of the period on his way to a 27-point second half performance.
Hanging on to a 47-43 lead at the 15:04 mark, the Foresters couldn’t contain Stafford as he scored the Knights’ next 12 points over a four-minute stretch to give Lickliter’s squad a lead that would stick at 55-52. MU went on to build a 12-point cushion with just under two minutes remaining as they rode out the win from the free throw line.
HU landed three Foresters in double digits with Shane Merryman leading the way with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting. He also grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Ault drained three from deep on his way to a season-high 14 points. Short added 17 points and Ryan Boester dished out a team-best six assists to go along with nine points.
Stafford finished with a career-high 29 points. Nick Achille poured in 22 points and ripped down a game-high seven rebounds. Jason Riley rounded out the Knights’ double digit scoring with 15 points. He also tallied a game-best 11 assists.
The Foresters are back in the friendly confines of Platt Arena on Saturday to host No. 20 Grace College at 3:00 p.m.