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For the second time this season, HU tops #25 USF

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. - The #RV Huntington women’s basketball team completed the regular season sweep over #25 Saint Francis Wednesday night with a 78-73 upset over their visitors. It’s HU’s fourth sweep of the year as they’ve also nabbed a pair of wins against Bethel, Spring Arbor and Goshen.

While the Foresters have claimed defense as their lifeblood all year, anyone at Platt Arena on this given night would contend that their offense is nothing to sneeze at either. Culler’s crew tickled the twine at a clip of 62.0 percent to finish 31-for-50 from the field for their best shooting outing of the season.

Contributions were across the board as five different Foresters registered double digits.

Sarah Fryman led the charge with 20 points, missing just one shot all night. Casey Morton came off the bench to net a career-best 17 points which included a trio of threes and a pair of critical freebies with 21 seconds remaining.

Brooke Saylor, despite playing just a handful of minutes in the second half, posted her 15th double double of the year with 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. She also redirected four USF shots and like Fryman, missed just one shot on the night.

Hailey Krewald and Sam Hammel finished with similar numbers. Both scored 11 points and dished out three assists with Krewald logging two steals to Hammel’s one.  

Saint Francis jumped out to a nine-point lead five minutes into the contest. Ninety seconds later, the lead remained at nine but unbeknownst to anyone, it would prove to be the visitors’ largest lead of the night. The league’s second leading scorer in Kara Gerka was responsible for USF’s red-hot start.

The Fishers native scored eight points during the spurt with the last nine-point disparity, a 16-7 tilt, coming at the 3:24 mark.

Morton countered by burying two from downtown to close out the quarter and reduce the gap to five, 22-17, by the first break. It was a brawl the rest of the way with no more than two possessions separating the two teams until the final five minutes when Saylor took matters into her own hands.

Saylor played just three minutes in the fourth quarter but she was the clear difference-maker. The Foresters, up by four when she checked in with 6:23 remaining, found themselves sitting pretty at the 3:29 mark when she fouled out as their advantage had stretched to 12 at 72-60.  The 5-10 forward scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds during her three-minute tear.

The cushion was necessary as the Cougars rattled off the next seven points for a 72-67 difference inside of a minute to go. The lead would dwindle to just three over the next 40 seconds as HU struggled at the line by going 2-for-4 but Morton again came to the rescue by converting both her free tosses to up the lead to five at 76-71. Fryman put the finishing touches on the win with two more freebies with ten ticks remaining before Lindley Kistler scored at the buzzer for her 24th point of the evening.

Gerka added 20 points for the Cougars while Savannah Buck finished with six treys for 18 points. The 5-6 point guard also handed out a game-high six dimes, tracked down three offensive rebounds and sniped two passes.

While the Cougars shot well below their season average by going 23-for-62 from the field for 37.1 percent, their performance from downtown was impressive. After going 9-for-16 in the first half, USF knocked down three more in the final 20 minutes to finish with a season-tying 12 threes. They also buried 15 of their 17 free throws.

Huntington committed twice as many turnovers as their visitors but came out ahead on the glass, 36-25.

With this win, Culler’s crew (16-10) takes sole possession of 4th place in the league standings with a 9-6 CL record while the Cougars (16-11, 8-7) drop into a tie for the 5th spot with Grace.

HU is back in action on Saturday when they road trip to #5 Marian for a 1:00 p.m. tip-off with the two-time defending national champions.

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.