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#13 IWU slips past #22 HU in 4OT thriller

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MARION, Ind. – For anyone at Luckey Arena Saturday afternoon, they more than got their money’s worth at the NAIA Top 25 showdown between 13th-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University and 22nd-ranked Huntington University.

It proved to be the longest game in HU women’s basketball program history as it took four overtime periods before the Wildcats finally claimed the 101-92 win.

While the final outcome wasn’t what Coach Culler and crew was hoping for, their gritty play was inspiring as there was no quit in the Foresters despite the odds stacked against them.

Down by six with just over a minute left in regulation, Miranda Palmer and Allyson Trout each buried one from long range to keep their team’s hopes alive. Palmer’s came at the 1:10 mark before Trout, nearly six feet behind the arc, found nothing but the bottom of the net with 17 ticks remaining to deadlock things at 62-62 and force the first OT.

After playing to another stalemate in the initial extra session, Huntington found themselves down by six again, this time with just 31 seconds remaining, in the second overtime. It was Palmer to the rescue.

The 5-6 guard, in just 14 seconds, slithered her way through the lane for a quick score in the paint, completed a traditional three-point play after stealing the inbounds pass and then canned a trey from the baseline to send the game to yet another overtime.

The third OT favored HU early on as they established a three-point advantage, 88-85, two minutes in with a chance to go up by five had a bunny not rolled off the rim.

The Wildcats took their turn at playing catch up to not only knot things up but reclaim the lead on a pair of Brittany Washington freebies with 24 seconds to go. Once again, HU didn’t relent. This time by way of Maddie Richer’s shot that crawled over the rim in the waning seconds to extend the game another five minutes.

The fourth and final OT belonged to IWU as they outscored their visitors 11-2. They made their living at the line where they went 8-for-8 to pull away for the nine-point victory.

When all was said and done, the hard fought contest featured 14 ties and ten lead changes with no more than seven points separating the two teams until the final 33 seconds.

Palmer topped all scorers with a season-high 35 points which included going 5-for-10 behind the arc. Trout knocked down four from downtown on her way to 21 points. Brooke Saylor, called for her fifth foul in the fourth quarter, added 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists while Sarah Fryman tossed in nine points and collected a team-high ten rebounds.

All five of IWU’s starters scored in double digits to make for a well-balanced attack. Washington led the way with 25 points which included going 6-for-6 from the line in the fourth OT. She also handed out a game-high five assists. The other Wildcats who scored in double digits included Haley Woodruff with 23, Chelsea Winner with 19, Kelsey Key with 17 and Anna Imhoff with 11.

Huntington shot 48.1 percent from the field (37-for-77) which included 12 from deep while the Wildcats shot 44.7 percent (34-for-76) and collected eight treys. The hosts made up the difference at the free throw line where they went 25-for-32 for 78.1 percent.  

Unfortunately, the line wasn’t as kind to Huntington as it proved to be their only downfall of the afternoon. They finished 6-for-14 from the charity stripe.

The Foresters drop to 7-3 on the year, 2-1 in league play. IWU improves to 8-3 overall, 3-0 in Crossroads action. Culler’s squad returns to the friendly confines of Platt Arena on Wednesday to host Grace College at 7:00 p.m.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 38 NAIA All-America honors and 254 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.