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Big 4th quarter propels HU to 69-57 win over #RV USF

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The HU women’s basketball team turned in one of its best quarters of the year Wednesday night to claim a 69-57 road win over #RV Saint Francis. The big quarter came in the fourth where the Foresters missed just two shots while going 16-for-20 from the line to put 32 points on the scoreboard on the way to their second straight league win.

The dub not only snapped a six-game losing streak against the Cougars but also marked the first time in seven years that Culler’s crew picked up a win at Hutzell Athletic Center. Their last win on USF’s turf was a 68-65 decision dating back to November 22 of 2011.  

The Foresters are now 11-7 overall, 4-3 in CL play good for the 5th spot in the league standings. Saint Francis, who dropped from 20th to 26th in the latest national poll, is now 11-8 overall, 3-4 in conference action.

Huntington claims defense as their bread and butter but it was their offensive firepower in the final 12 minutes that propelled the visitors to tonight’s win. After managing just 27 points through the first 28 minutes, HU went into offensive overdrive that started when Hailey Krewald dropped in a triple to reduce a double-digit deficit to nine at 39-30 with just over two minutes left in the third.

It sparked a 13-1 run that spilled into the fourth for a 40-40 stalemate at the 9:31 mark with Sam Hammel serving as the catalytic agent. The 5-7 rookie connected on a pair of traditional three-point plays on either side of the last break in addition to scoring on a nifty move in the lane at the end of the third to account for all but five points during her team’s two-and-a-half minute tear.

The Cougars would reclaim a brief lead before Sarah Fryman, currently ranked 2nd in the nation in free throw percentage, knocked down four freebies to give her team a permanent lead, 44-42, with just over eight minutes to go.

The Foresters played near-perfect basketball after that with big contributions from multiple players. Casey Morton canned two from long range within the next three minutes, each time extending her team’s advantage to two possessions. Maddie Richer’s long ball with three minutes remaining finally gave Culler and crew their first double-digit lead of 60-49.

Krewald went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and came up with several big rebounds with none bigger than an offensive board on a rare miss at the line for Huntington. Hammel filled in the gaps - picking off a pass early in the fourth that proved pivotal in HU’s comeback in addition to posting four more points after her second and one.

When all was said and done, the Foresters outscored their hosts 42-18 in the final 12 minutes to make for one of the program’s most epic finishes.

The second half saw the visitors miss just five shots from the floor for a scorching 68.8 percent (11-for-16). When they weren’t knocking down a shot, they were hanging out at the free throw line where they went 22-for-26 in the final twenty minutes which included going 9-for-12 to close out the game.  

The first frame wasn’t quite as flattering for HU as they managed just seven field goals on 33.3 percent shooting to go along with five points from the stripe to find themselves down 26-21 at intermission. Huntington played catchup for all but one possession in the opening period and faced a deficit the entire third quarter before their grand turnaround in the fourth.

Huntington shot 48.6 percent (18-for-37) for the game which included six from downtown and drained 27 of their 32 free throws for 84.4 percent while their hosts managed just 36.2 percent from the field (17-for-47) and 65.4 percent from the line (17-for-26).

The Foresters won the battle of the boards, 30-22, but committed 18 turnovers to USF’s 11.

Richer was sensational for Culler’s crew. Despite being hounded all night by USF defenders, the 5-5 point guard committed just one TO in over 38 minutes of playing time and was a perfect 3-for-3 behind the arc and knocked down all eight of her free throws to finish with a team-best 17 points. She also pulled down four rebounds, handed out two dimes and grabbed a steal.

Hammel came off the bench to have a big game for the Foresters as well by tallying 14 points, two assists and three steals. Fryman added 12 points while Morton chipped in ten. Brooke Saylor collected a game-best 11 rebounds and enjoyed game-high honors in assists with three.

Kara Gerke and Josie Murphy posted 22 and 11 points respectively to pace the Cougars.

The Foresters will have their hands full on Saturday when they host #5 Marian at 1:00 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.