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Foresters find a way to win at IU Northwest

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GARY, Ind. - The Huntington women’s basketball team found a way to slip past IU Northwest (6-7) Saturday afternoon, 57-55, at the Savannah Center. The game didn’t come without its ups and downs for the Foresters but it was their grittiness and never-say-die attitude that snapped their two-game losing skid as they improve to 9-3 overall.

Culler’s crew played like they had just gotten off a three-hour bus ride as they coughed up the ball ten times and managed just nine points through the opening ten minutes. Things didn’t get much better over the first three minutes of the second quarter but the Foresters showed signs of life when Brooke Yoder drained a triple at the 7:11 mark to erase their double-digit deficit to an eight-point difference of 23-15.

Yoder’s three was the start of a barrage of long balls for the visitors as they drained four more in the frame to earn the scoreboard’s favor. Yoder would go on to bury another, as did Sarah Fryman but it was the play of Casey Morton that turned things around.

The 5-10 forward connected on two from deep in addition to scoring twice in the paint, all within a two-minute span, to send her team into the locker room with a 33-31 advantage.

Unfortunately, the third quarter was a repeat of the first as HU struggled again to put points on the board which allowed the hosts to not only reclaim the lead, but extend the advantage back to 11 points, 46-35, with two minutes left in the stanza.

Huntington kicked into another gear to finish the quarter by scoring on three straight possessions which included Morton’s third three of the afternoon to make for a manageable six-point difference, 48-42, heading into the fourth.

Brooke Saylor picked up where Morton left off as HU’s offensive workhorse in the fourth by scoring eight of her team’s last 15 points. She did her work mainly down low by converting two freebies and scoring on a put back early in the quarter to keep her team within striking distance.

Yoder cashed in on two free throws and then Fryman slipped past her defender on the baseline to pull Huntington within two, 52-50, as the RedHawks managed just four points through the first five minutes of the fourth.

It was all Huntington after that as Maddie Richer found nothing but the bottom of the net from long range at the top of the key to give Huntington a lead for good with just over four minutes remaining. Saylor scored twice more, with her last bucket coming at the 1:16 mark, to keep her team on top but the game didn’t finish without some drama in the waning seconds.

With three points still separating the two teams, HU secured the ball with eight seconds to go forcing the RedHawks to foul three times before sending the Foresters to the line. With 1.9 seconds remaining, both freebies for Huntington were off the mark to give IU Northwest fleeting hope as the rebound was tied up with the jump ball favoring the hosts.

After advancing the ball to half court on a timeout, HU was whistled with a foul to send Gina Rubino to the line with three shots and the chance to tie things up. The junior forward sank her first one but missed the second. She intentionally missed the third with hopes of an offensive board but Morton corralled the rebound to secure the W much to the relief of the HU faithfuls who made the snowy trek to Gary.

Morton finished with 13 points to pace the Foresters. Fryman added 12 while Saylor tossed in 11 in addition to pulling down a career- and program-tying 21 rebounds which included eight of the offensive variety.

As a team, HU shot 41.2 percent from the field which included ten three-pointers. They converted just five of their nine free throws and committed 22 turnovers but won the battle of the boards 40-34.

Three RedHawks landed in double digits with Jayla Crump finishing with 13 and Cloe Salman and Alexis Blake tallying 12 and ten points respectively. IU Northwest managed just 14 field goals on 25.9 percent shooting but they made their living at the charity stripe where they went 21-for-27.

The Foresters are off for a week before hitting the road to Tennessee for a matchup with Cumberland University on Saturday.

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.