6th-seeded Grace knocks 3rd-seeded HU out of tourney
Poor shooting dooms Foresters
HUNTINGTON, Ind. – A night of cold shooting doomed the 3rd-seeded HU men’s basketball team as they shot 38.8 percent, nearly 12 percent below their season average, to suffer a 56-54 loss to 6th-seeded Grace College (17-13) Wednesday night in first round action of the Crossroads League tournament.
With this loss, the Foresters, currently ranked 16th nationally, drop to 24-7 and lie in wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NAIA National Championships slated for March 12-18 in Branson, Mo.
Huntington struggled through the first twenty minutes, shooting only 30.8 percent (8-for-26) which included going 2-for-13 behind the arc to find themselves down by five at 27-22 by intermission. Derek Hinen was the only Forester to shoot over 50.0 percent. The 6-3 point guard went 3-for-5 from the field and knocked down two freebies to pace his team with nine points.
HU’s shooting woes continued in the second half as they went 5-for-16 through the first 15 minutes of the period but somehow they managed to stay within striking distance to make for an interesting finish. Coach Platt’s squad closed out the game by going 6-for-7 but could never get over the hump.
Down by ten at 46-36, Ryan Boester’s pull-up jumper at the 5:04 mark ignited an 8-0 run that clipped the lead to 46-44 with just over three minutes remaining. After trading buckets, the odds seemed stacked against HU as Greg Miller drained a triple with 1:20 to go to give Grace a five-point cushion of 51-46.
A gritty Forester crew fought back. Alec Peterson canned a pair of free throws and Tyler Ault scored in the paint to cut the lead to one, 51-50, with 40 ticks remaining.
After sending Logan Irwin to the line where he went 1-for-2 with 15 seconds to go, it looked the Foresters would have the final possession to either tie or go for the win but all that changed in an instant when Grace came up with the board from Irwin’s missed free throw.
It forced the Foresters to foul. Jared Treadway drilled both attempts to push the lead back to four at 54-50. Derek Hinen’s long ball with six seconds to go gave the HU fans a glimmer of hope but it was too little too late as the Lancers knocked down two more freebies for the upset.
Hinen and Shane Merryman each tossed in 15 points to pace HU. Hinen also dished out a team-high three assists. Peterson tallied ten points and 12 rebounds, five of which were offensive, to register his first double double of the season.
Irwin topped Grace with 15 points and a game-high seven assists. Greg Miller and Caleb Featherston each posted 11 points.