Huntington, Ind. - In a game that came down to the wire, the 5th-seeded Cougars of Spring Arbor (18-13) edged out the 4th-seeded Huntington University Foresters (21-10) 56-54 in first round action of the MCC tournament.
Nothing seemed to go right for the Foresters in the first twenty minutes as they never held a lead and struggled to find any sort of rhythm. Down 19-10 at the midway point, Kellen Zawadzki knocked down back-to-back treys to spark an 8-2 run that trimmed the lead to three at 21-18.
But the Cougars' aggression on the offensive boards paid big dividends as they responded by scoring six consecutive second chance points to push the lead back to nine with just under four minutes on the clock. The Foresters made up three points by halftime to head into the locker room down 31-25.
Spring Arbor built a double digit advantage at 47-37 with just over twelve minutes remaining and held onto that lead for the next five minutes until Shively broke free to drain two treys to pull HU within four at 52-48. The Foresters went on tie things up when Zawadzki came up with a loose ball in the paint for the easy lay-in with 52 second remaining.
Missed block outs came back to haunt Huntington as Matt Howe grabbed his eighth offensive rebound of the night to score down low with 14 ticks on the clock. Shively got a good look at a ten-footer but couldn't get it to fall forcing the Foresters to foul with 3.1 seconds. After two more fouls to get the Cougars into bonus, Howe missed the front-end of a one-and-one but time wasn't on the Foresters’ side as the final buzzer sounded before they could get off a shot.
Poor shooting plagued the Foresters all evening as they went 20-for-58 for 34.5 percent. The Cougars controlled the boards, outrebounding HU 43-31.
Zawadzki finished with 16 points and four steals to lead HU. Shively was the only other Forester to reach double digits with 14. Howe tossed in 14 points and hauled in a game-high 15 rebounds to pace the Cougars and DJ Baisden chipped in 10 points.
With one final rankings remaining and the majority of NAIA conference championships slated for next week, the Foresters will have to wait until then to see if they receive an at-large bid to the national tournament. Box Score