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#RV Taylor outlast HUWBB 65-61

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. - While the HU women’s basketball team came up on the short end of a 65-61 decision to #RV Taylor University, the battle was impressive as Culler’s squad dove back into league play Wednesday night to kick off 2018.

With the exception of two short stints, no more than two possessions ever separated the two teams. The Foresters enjoyed one of those stints at the end of the first quarter when Jade Clement found Brooke Saylor at the elbow for a ten-footer with seven seconds on the clock for a 17-10 advantage at the first break and what proved to be HU’s largest lead of the contest.

The Trojans, known for their offensive as evidenced by being ranked #23 in the nation in scoring, opened up the second with a 10-4 run to claim their first lead of the night, 22-21, at the 4:35 mark. Josie Cobb who accounted for five of those points dropped in her second three of the quarter two minutes before intermission to extend TU’s lead to five at 28-23 but Maddie Richer countered back at the buzzer with a three of her own, well beyond the arc, for a 28-26 halftime score.

Another long ball by Richer to start the third, preceded by an Erin Mohr layup, gave the lead back to Huntington 31-28. They would go on to push their advantage to six, 37-31, on a pair of freebies by Casey Morton at the midway point of the quarter but momentum shifted when Brooke Saylor was whistled for her fourth foul.

With the 5-10 forward on the bench, the nation’s leading scorer in Kendall Bradbury, who had managed just three points in the opening twenty minutes, took full advantage of Saylor’s absence to score six points in the last three minutes of the quarter to swing the pendulum back to the visitors for a 40-39 Taylor lead.

The Trojans continued to build on their advantage over the first six minutes of the fourth to claim the second aforementioned stint, a 55-47 tilt, but Hailey Krewald quickly shaved the lead back to two possessions when she converted an old-fashioned three-point play.

Into the game entered Mikala Avina with three minutes to go. The 5-2 sparkplug immediately knocked down a long two for a three-point game of 55-52. After an empty trip for Taylor, Morton closed the gap to one with a pair of free tosses but Cassidy Wyse extended it back to four with her second long ball of the night on the very next possession.

Not to be outdone, Avina answered with another two points from the outside while Morton cashed in on two more free throws on the next two Forester possessions. On either side of Morton’s trip to the charity stripe, the Trojans went 1-for-4 from the line to leave the door open for the hosts as they trailed by just one at 59-58 inside of a minute to go.

Avina didn’t back down from the challenge as her triple was half way in the cylinder before somehow rattling out for what would have given Huntington a two-point advantage with just over 30 seconds remaining. Instead Cobb converted a pair of free throws as did Bradbury shortly after for a 63-58 Taylor lead.

Just to keep things interesting, Avina found nothing but the bottom of the net on her second three-point attempt with three ticks remaining for a two-point difference of 63-61 but two more Taylor free tosses iced their win as they improve to 11-6 overall, 4-1 in league play.

Four of the Trojan’s six losses have come against ranked opponents while they have knocked off four Top 20 teams which includes #5 Shawnee State, #9 Dakota Wesleyan, #13 Olivet Nazarene and #17 Saint Francis.

Saylor claimed top scoring and rebounding honors for HU with 16 points and eight boards. She also dished out four assists and tallied two steals. She was Huntington’s only double-digit scorer as three other Foresters in Krewald, Avina and Sam Hammel finished with seven points apiece.

Bradbury finished with 20 points, five points less than her nation-leading 25.3 average, to go along with eight rebounds. She and Saylor are two of the country’s best rebounders with Saylor averaging 12.3 per night for the #2 spot in the nation while Bradbury corals 11.9 per night for the #3 spot.

Wyse added 16 points for the Trojans while Cobb chipped in 12.

Huntington (9-7, 2-3) will look to snap their four-game losing streak on Saturday when they face Spring Arbor University at 1:00 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.