INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - They say three’s a charm and that proved true Wednesday night at the PE Center as the 5th-seeded HU men’s basketball team knocked off 4th-seeded Marian University 102-91 when it mattered most. After dropping both regular season contests to the Knights, the Foresters played anything like the underdog on opening night of the Crossroads League tournament.
With this win, HU improves to 14-17 and advances to the semifinals of the league tourney on Saturday where they will face top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan at 3:00 p.m.
From opening tip, it was obvious that Huntington came to do battle and the numbers easily back that. Marian (20-11) held a lead for less than 30 seconds. The game was tied for less than two minutes. Both of which happened in the first seven minutes. Tyler Arens’ long ball gave his team a permanent lead, 23-20, at the 13:23 mark. The Foresters had already buried five from downtown at that point and showed no signs of letting up.
Huntington would go on to drain four more in the opening frame to hold a steady lead over their hosts for a 51-45 lead by intermission. Mike Bush picked apart Marian’s defense for 23 points, 15 of those points coming from beyond the arc. When he wasn’t scoring, he was handing out dimes, six to be exact, with one of his main targets Tyler Arens who finished the half with 12 points.
The start of the second period was pivotal as the Foresters forced the Knights’ out of their zone by scoring eight quick points, six from downtown, to open up a 59-45 advantage within the first 90 seconds. The lead stayed in double digits much of the rest of the way but the few times Marian made any sort of run, Huntington always had some sort of answer.
Of his team’s play in the final period, Platt had this to say. “The start to the second half was huge. We did a great job of limiting their runs and extending ours.”
After scoring just three points in the opening 20 minutes, Mason Coverstone erupted for 15 in the second half which included three treys. Arens also posted huge numbers in the last half of the contest. The 6-8 big man kept MU guessing by toggling from bonus land to banging down low to add 20 more points to his total.
Bush also got creative putting points on the board. After scoring a chunk of his points from the perimeter in the first half, the 5-7 guard snuck into the lane for four layups and added three points from the charity stripe in the final 20 minutes to finish with a game-best and season-high 34 points to go along with 12 assists.
Arens finished with 32 points, a team-best seven rebounds and two assists. Coverstone added 18 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.
Coach Platt applauded the play of his guys. “Mike, Tyler and Mason all had a big night. Kyle and Zac provided great minutes off the bench.
“Konner was chased so hard all night and couldn’t get rolling but played well overall. Marian is not an easy place to play and our guys were laser-focused from the get go.”
As a team, Huntington was locked in offensively as they finished 38-for-68 from the field for 55.9 percent which included going 15-for-29 from long range. They committed just seven turnovers.
Marian shot 44.2 percent from the floor (34-for-77) which included making good on ten of their 32 three-point attempts. The hosts held a slight advantage on the glass 38-35 with their 7-0 footer Reginald Kissoonlal grabbing 15 boards in addition to collecting 15 points.
Wes Stowers, the league’s leading scorer, poured in 31 points and dished out six assists while Andrew Jordan and Christian Stewart tallied 13 points apiece for the Knights.
“We are playing with a lot of confidence right now and we look forward to playing Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday,” said Platt.
HU split with the Wildcats, ranked 5th in the most recent poll, in the regular season. Huntington’s 87-84 W over IWU, ranked 4th at the time, dates back to December 2. The Foresters have also registered wins this year against the other two teams remaining in the tournament in Mount Vernon and Saint Francis.
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.