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Goshen slips past HU in league opener

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The league season opener didn’t go as planned for the HU men’s basketball team as they let a convincing lead slip away to suffer a 94-90 loss to the Goshen College Maple Leafs (5-2) Tuesday night at Platt Arena.  

Up 71-50 with just over 13 minutes to go, the Foresters watched their lead slowly fade away. Coach Platt’s crew scored just eight points over the next ten minutes while their guests scored on 15 of their next 18 possessions to find themselves down by five, 84-79, with 3:23 remaining.

Goshen would go on to take a seven point lead, 91-84, with two minutes to go before Devon Merder scored the game’s next four points over a 60-second span to pull the Foresters within one possession. The final 30 seconds had all the makings of OT as the Foresters, who entered the contest as the nation’s best free-throw shooting team, had two different chances at the line to draw even with the Maple Leafs.

Unfortunately things do go as scripted as HU went 1-for-3 from the charity stripe with 22 ticks remaining to find themselves still down by two. After drawing a charge at the other end of the court, the Foresters marched back to the line with 17 seconds to go and this time canned the first shot before the second attempt clamored off the front of the rim. Goshen would close out the contest by converting three of their four free throw attempts to seal the come-from-behind win.

Up until that 13-minute mark of the second stanza, Huntington looked poised for a runaway win. They built their first double digit lead seven minutes into the game, took a 51-37 lead into break and would hold onto a 10+ advantage until the midway point of the second period before things went awry.

After shooting 59.4 percent (19-for-32) from the floor in the first half, Huntington still managed to make good on half their attempts in the final period to finish 32-for-58 for 55.2 percent for the game while Goshen flip flopped halves by shooting 41.7 percent in the opening twenty minutes before sizzling the nets for 60.0 percent in the second half to finish 50.0 percent for the evening (33-for-66).

The Maple Leafs won the battle of the boards 36-27 and outscored their hosts 13-7 on second chance points but a glaring difference came by way of TOs where Goshen scored 20 points on Forester miscues while only surrendering seven points on their nine turnovers.

Merder scored 17 points to lead five Foresters in double digits. Austin Karazsia, Mike Bush and Tyler Arens each chipped in 13 points while Daniel Woll tallied 11. Bush, currently leading the nation in assists with his 10.3 average, dished out 14. Fourteen assists is the third-highest total in NAIA Division II this year.

Xavier Newson finished with a game-high 20 points. Kevin Phillips added 19, Christian Grider tossed in 17 while Conner Funkhouser and Devin Heath-Granger collected 13 and 12 respectively for the Maple Leafs.  

Huntington (6-2) hits the road on Saturday to face Asbury University at 4:00 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 254 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.