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Foresters knock off #4 IWU 87-84

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. - Up against one of the nation’s best, the HU men’s basketball team made it clear from opening tip that they weren’t about to back down as they knocked off #4 Indiana Wesleyan 87-84 Saturday afternoon at Platt Arena.

With this win, the Foresters improve to 5-6 overall, 1-2 in league play. The loss is the Wildcats’ first in conference play as they drop to 8-2 overall, 2-1 in the league. Huntington has trumped IWU two out of the last three times these neighborly foes have gone head-to-head.

The first half favored the Wildcats as they opened up a ten-point lead, 25-15, midway through the period. IWU boasts a high-octane offense, averaging over 91 points a contest, so they were well on their way to their season average but the Foresters had other plans.

The lead remained at ten 90 seconds later but a credit to HU’s defense, the Wildcats managed just four points over the next two-and-a-half minutes which was just enough time for the Foresters to get right back in it. Devon Merder and Jaden Sutton each swiped a steal and scored to lead the defensive charge as the scoreboard read 29-25 with six minutes remaining on the way to a 39-34 difference by intermission.

Just like the first half, the first ten minutes of the second half saw the visitors open up a lead that could have been devastating as the gap extended to nine, 61-52. Instead, Platt and crew came roaring back with another two-and-a-half minute defensive stand. This time around, HU rattled off nine straight points highlighted by Merder’s rare four-point play to force the first deadlock since early in the contest at 61-61.

The Wildcats would enjoy one more brief advantage before, as they say, “the rest was history.” An acrobatic layup with the shot clock winding down and a long ball on the next possession, both by Mike Bush, gave the Foresters a lead that would stick at 66-63 with just over six minutes to go.

Bush and Arens handled the bulk of Huntington’s scoring after that as they accounted for all but four of their team’s final 21 points but it was Konner Platt who iced the game when he drained a pair of freebies with 15 ticks remaining as IWU’s Hail Mary three clanked off the front of the rim.

The Foresters shot 44.6 percent from the floor (25-for-56) but it was their performance at the charity stripe that earned them the upset. HU converted 32 of their 40 free throws for 80.0 percent to outscore the Wildcats by 19 at the line.

While IWU out-muscled Huntington on the glass, 40-30, Platt’s crew committed half as many miscues, eight, to their visitors’ 16.

Bush led all scorers with 25 points which included going 12-for-13 from the free throw line. Arens finished with 16 points and a game-best eight rebounds. Platt also tossed in 16 points while Merder dropped in 13.  

Kyle Mangas topped the Wildcats with 19 points. Evan Maxwell added 17. Canaan Coffey and Grant Smith both came off the bench to tally 11 and ten points respectively.

Huntington hits the road on Tuesday to take on Grace College at 7:00 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.