UPLAND, Ind. - Tuesday was the type of game one has come to expect in the opening round of the Crossroads League tournament between the #4 and #5 seeds. It was a battle to the bitter end with the lower-seeded HU women’s basketball team (18-12) outlasting Taylor (21-10) for the 69-65 win.
The loss wraps up the Trojans’ season while the Foresters keep their hopes alive for a conference tournament championship. HU advances to the semifinals on Friday when they travel to top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan University for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.
Heading into the contest, the history books indicated that TU was the clear favorite as the Trojans have dominated HU at Odle Arena. Since 1986, Taylor has collected 20 wins against eight losses against the Foresters which includes a 67-41 romping on February 9.
However, it was clear from opening tip that the Foresters would make sure history did not repeat itself. All five starters put points on the board within the first four minutes of play to give the visitors what proved to be the largest lead of the contest at 11-5.
Behind 12 points from Pazia Speed, HU went on to claim a slim lead through much of the first stanza until the Trojans managed to knot things up at 32-32 by the halftime buzzer. It was an evenly matched half as both teams shot an identical 12-of-28 (42.9 percent) from the floor.
The second half was more of the same as both teams battled for control. It looked like the Trojans were slowly taking over as they claimed a four-point advantage on three different occasions with their last coming at 48-44 by the midway point of the stanza.
But back-to-back triples by Allison Greene and Sarah Miller-Jennings evened things up for the eighth time at 50-50 and sparked a 14-6 run that gave HU a permanent lead of 58-54 with 6:34 remaining.
The senior duo accounted for all 14 of Huntington’s points highlighted by another long ball from Greene and conventional three-point play by Miller-Jennings.
The Trojans erased the lead to one three different times over the next six minutes; their last coming with just over thirty ticks remaining when Kelsey Bryant scored on a put back to reduce the lead to 65-64.
The Foresters didn’t buckle. Instead, they did what they do best as Miller-Jennings knocked down two from the line and Taylor Foley followed up with two more to seal the win.
Speed paced HU with 20 points and four assists. Miller-Jennings and Greene each added 15 points. Foley ripped down a team-high eight rebounds to go along with nine points while Lauren Meese was a pest on defense all night, swiping a game-high five steals.
TU’s seniors carried their team with Erika Redweik at the top of the heap. She scored 20 points while Erin Guarneri logged her eighth double double of the season with 11 points and ten rebounds. Tess Rudolph added 11 points and dished out four assists in the losing effort.
Huntington took advantage of 21 Taylor turnovers to score 15 points while the Trojans outscored their visitors 16-9 on second chance points. The Foresters shot 41.8 percent (23-for-55) from the field which included knocking down seven long balls. They also connected on 16 of their 18 free throws attempts for 88.9 percent.
HU is currently shooting 79.8 percent from the line as a team to lead the nation in free throw shooting.
Despite going 0-for-7 behind the arc in the final period, the Trojans still managed to shoot 44.1 percent (26-for-59) from the floor and were a perfect 9-for-9 form the charity stripe.