HUNTINGTON, Ind. – It was a risky strategy by the HU men’s basketball team (23-5, 12-4) but it paid off for the No. 16 Foresters as they edged past #RV Grace College (16-11, 8-8) 64-62 Saturday afternoon at Platt Arena.
With the score knotted at 62-62 with 20 ticks remaining, Coach Platt and crew opted to foul Logan Irwin, sending the 54 percent free throw shooter to the line where he missed the front end of a one-and-one. The decision paid off as TJ Short was fouled on the rebound and converted one of his two freebies to put HU in the driver’s seat.
Alec Peterson wrapped things up by going 1-for-2 from the stripe with :03 seconds remaining to secure the win. Grace had chances on either side of Peterson’s free throws but came up short each time as Huntington enjoyed sweet revenge from their loss to the Lancers back on January 18.
The two teams swapped the lead throughout much of the first half with Huntington’s biggest swing coming early in the contest when a pair of Short treys inspired a 13-5 run that turned their two-point deficit into a six-point advantage of 16-10 at the 16:00 mark.
Grace battled back to take its largest lead of the period at 27-22 with just under five minutes to go before Tyler Ault scored on back-to-back possessions to trim the lead to one and spark a 9-4 run to close out the half, sending his team to the locker room in a 31-31 deadlock.
The final period was much like the first in that the Foresters manufactured an early run to jump in front 49-41 by the 13:20 mark. This time it was an 8-0 run that featured an old-fashioned three-point play by Shane Merryman and two free throws and a triple by Short.
In true Crossroads League fashion, the game was far from over as the Lancers battled right back with the game’s largest fluctuation, an 14-0 run, to reclaim a 55-49 lead with just under nine minutes remaining.
Grace hung on to their lead over the next four minutes but the pendulum finally swung in favor of the hosts. Down 61-56 with 4:50 remaining, the Foresters ended the game on an 8-1 run to mount their impressive come-from-behind win behind the play of Peterson. The 6-10 center scored five points, ripped down three rebounds and altered a handful of shots in the closing minutes.
Short topped all scorers with 19 points. Merryman added 16 points and dished out a game-high five assists while Peterson finished with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Greg Miller paced the Lancers with 15 points and ten rebounds for his 11th double double of the season while Irwin and Kyle Fillman each tossed in 14 points.
With this win, Huntington remains at the No. 2 spot in the league standings, one game ahead of Bethel and one game behind Indiana Wesleyan. HU closes out the regular season with a road trip to Saint Francis on Tuesday before hosting Taylor on Saturday.