UPLAND, Ind. - It was a barn burner in Odle Arena Tuesday night as the HU men’s basketball team played spoiler to Taylor University’s senior night by handing the Trojans a 102-99 loss in overtime. The W avenges an 82-69 loss to TU earlier this year.
Big plays characterized the entire evening but there was none bigger than senior Mike Bush’s buzzer-beating contested three to end an emotion-packed evening of basketball.
The 5-7 playmaker had been at it all night so it wasn’t too surprising when his shot, well beyond the arc, found nothing but the bottom of the net just seconds before Mason Degenkolb’s step back 18-footer knotted things up for the 11th time.
The extra period wasn’t the only drama of the night as the last minute of regulation had both sets of fans on the edge of their seats. With 44 ticks remaining, Bush beat his man off the dribble for an easy lay-in for what many thought was a comfortable lead at 90-83.
Ryan Robinson quickly answered by scoring in the paint to make it a five-point game and then the unthinkable happened. Four straight missed free throws by the Foresters left the door cracked for the Trojans and Robinson walked through it.
The Hamilton (Ohio) native knocked down his third trifecta of the night to pull his team within two before Degenkolb snaked his way through the lane for a game-tying layup with 0.4 seconds remaining to send the Trojan fans into a frenzy and the game into overtime.
While momentum certainly favored Taylor heading into the extra period, the tides turned shortly after when James McCloud was whistled for the game’s third technical foul with 2:22 to go.
Konner Platt calmly sank both free throws to give his team a 96-94 advantage. McCloud’s T came just after Degenkolb had made a shot and was fouled but before his free throw so after the 6-0 sophomore guard completed the and one, Devon Merder, who had been relatively quiet all night offensively, buried his only trey of the night with the shot clock expiring to extend Huntington’s lead to four at 99-95 with a buck thirty remaining.
Taylor kept things interesting by rattling off the next four points for the 99-99 deadlock before Bush’s heroics pushed HU beyond the century mark for the win. The Foresters are a perfect 3-for-3 in OT games this season.
The first half favored the hosts as the Foresters went more than five minutes without a field goal to turn a one-point game of 17-16 into a 31-16 disparity with just over eight minutes left in the half. The lead ballooned to 16, 43-27, five minutes later but then began HU’s hunt to get back in it. Behind six points from Trevor Lockwood, the Foresters pieced together a 15-4 run to close out the frame for a 47-42 halftime score.
The Trojans held onto the lead through the first 11 minutes of the second period until Merder cashed in on a fast break layup to give Huntington its first lead at 71-69 since the 13:35 mark of the first half. A dogfight ensued as the game saw four more lead changes and five ties until the final buzzer.
Bush was one of three Foresters to carry the scoring load for Platt’s crew. He claimed game-high scoring honors with 31 points. He also dished out 12 assists for his third straight double double in addition to swiping five steals.
Trevor Lockwood was a force to be reckoned with in the paint at both ends of the floor. The 6-8 big man tossed in a career-best 28 points on 13-for-17 shooting. He also pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds, six from each end, and swatted four shots. Konner Platt also dropped in 28 points as the trio accounted for 87 of their team’s 102 points.
Merder added 11 points and grabbed eight boards for Huntington.
Lockwood’s counterpart, Jake Heggeland, also posted big numbers with a career-high 28 points for the Trojans to go along with nine rebounds. Robinson collected 23 points and five assists while Degenkolb finished with 19 points.
HU wraps up the regular season on Saturday by hosting Mount Vernon 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.