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#24 Taylor wards off Foresters for 82-69 win

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. - While it wasn’t the result the Forester men’s basketball team was hoping for to kick off the new year, an 82-69 loss to #24 Taylor University (11-6, 2-3), HU fans left Platt Arena Wednesday night with an appreciation for their team’s persistence and never-say-die attitude.

Two buckets was all the offense Platt’s crew could muster through the opening seven minutes to dig themselves into a 23-4 hole. It would have been easy to toss in the towel at that point but Huntington wasn’t about to do that. While the Foresters weren’t able to make-up any ground the rest of the half, they did play even with their visitors for a 47-26 difference by the midway point.

Tyler Arens and Konner Platt carried the team offensively through the opening twenty minutes with each tossing in ten points to account for all but six of HU’s points.

After a quiet first half, Devon Merder opened up the second period with a driving layup to perk up the home crowd and send the message that there was still a lot of game to be played. Six minutes later the gap was back to 21, 63-42, but then began a slow and steady comeback.

Arens started things off by accounting for seven of his team’s next nine points which included an old-fashioned three-point play at the 10:46 mark that erased Taylor’s lead to 16 at 67-51. Merder and Trevor Lockwood then took a turn at putting the team on their backs by combining for 12 of HU’s next 14 points.  

Merder dropped in a three on Huntington’s next possession and then 90 seconds later made his way down the lane to kiss one off the backboard as the shot clock expired. Merder would find the bottom of the net again but not before Lockwood converted his team’s second old-fashioned three-point play of the frame with just under seven minutes remaining.

The 6-8 senior went on to can a pair of free throws to reduce the lead to just two possessions at 71-65 with less than five minutes on the clock.

When all was said and done, it was a 23-8 run that spanned eight minutes. Unfortunately the grind to get back in the game took its toll on the hosts as they managed just four points the rest of the way to open the door for Taylor to extend their advantage back to double digits - mostly by way of the charity stripe which is where their last ten points came from.

Arens and Platt finished with 20 points apiece to pace HU. Merder scored all ten of his points in the second period. The 6-4 senior also pulled down a game-best nine rebounds, handed out four dimes and swiped two steals. Lockwood added nine points and posted two blocks.  

Ryan Robinson came off the bench to top Taylor with 19 points, ten from the line in the waning minutes, while Evan Crowe and Vincent Miranda chipped in 14 each. James McCloud collected ten points to round out the Trojans’ double digit scoring.

The Foresters drop to 6-11 on the year, 2-3 in league play. Next up for Platt and crew is a trip to Spring Arbor on Saturday where they will tip-off against the #16 Cougars at 3:00 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 274 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.