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Foresters’ season comes to an end at Luckey Arena

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MARION, Ind. - The HU men’s basketball team’s season came to an end Saturday afternoon at Luckey Arena as top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan outlasted the 5th-seeded Foresters 90-77 in semifinal action of the Crossroads League tournament.

The Foresters advanced to the semis after upending 4th-seeded Marian in the quarterfinals Wednesday night.

While IWU held onto a lead for all but the first two minutes of the contest, HU never let them stray too far ahead. The biggest disparity through the opening 20 minutes came with just under nine minutes left in the half when the Wildcats surged ahead 28-14.

But Platt’s crew wasn’t about to let it turn into a lopsided affair by countering with a 16-2 run that got everyone involved but was highlighted by a pair of triples by Mike Bush for a 30-30 stalemate three minutes later.

Wesleyan would go on to take a 39-34 lead into intermission. IWU’s advantage was constant over the next 15 minutes as HU scratched and clawed to close the gap. Just like the first half, Huntington faced its biggest deficit right around the nine-minute mark. This time it was a 13-point spread of 71-58.

Platt’s crew mustered one final push with Zac Owens’ long ball at the 5:27 mark pulling his team within two possessions, 77-71 which was the closest they’d been since halftime. Unfortunately, scoring did not come easy for the visitors after that as they managed just six points the rest of the way. The Wildcats took full advantage to finish with their 16th double-digit win of the year and secure a spot at championship game of the league tourney.

Statistically there were more similarities than differences. The two teams shot the ball similarly to finish within two percent of each other - HU finished at 48.5 percent and IWU at 46.8 percent. Only two rebounds separated the two squads with the Foresters corralling 41 to IWU’s 39.

The Wildcats got to the line a few more times and converted a higher percentage but the glaring difference came by way of mistakes made with HU committing 18 to IWU’s nine. The payoff was significant for Wesleyan as they outscored HU 23-2 on points off turnovers.

Konner Platt topped HU with 21 points. Bush registered 19 points, six assists and two steals. Tyler Arens logged his team’s only double double with 12 points and ten rebounds. Owens came off the bench to toss in 12 points.

The Wildcats, currently ranked No. 5 in the country, entered the afternoon having won eight of their last nine games behind one of the league’s best in freshman Kyle Mangas. On this given day, the Warsaw native dropped in a game-best 26 points to lead a balanced IWU attack.

Jacob Johnson tallied 17 points. Evan Maxwell added 15 points and a game-high 11 boards while Joel Okafor posted ten points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Huntington wraps up the year with a 14-18 record.

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.