Huntington, Ind. - Fighting to earn a tournament home game, the 21st-ranked Forester men's basketball team (21-9, 9-7) slipped past the No. 14 Cougars of Saint Francis (21-9, 10-6) 87-84 in the final regular MCC game of the season to clinch the fourth spot in conference standings.
With this win, the Foresters flip-flopped spots with Spring Arbor University. They will host the Cougars on Wednesday night in first round action of the MCC tourney.
The first eight minutes were nip-and-tuck as neither team gained more than a four-point advantage but Tyler Shively changed all that when he drained a three to give HU the momentum and a five-point lead at 27-22 at the 11:07 mark. The Foresters went on to build a ten-point lead on several occasions and finished the half up 47-39. The Foresters sizzled the nets shooting 63.3 percent (19-for-30) in the first stanza behind Shively's 15 points.
The Foresters cooled off to start the second period as the Cougars closed to within three at 53-50 five minutes into the half but HU didn't seem too rattled as continued to hold Saint Francis at bay. Down 78-70 with just under seven minutes remaining, the Cougars strung together a 10-3 run to knot the score at 80-80 with just over three minutes remaining.
After trading misses, Caleb Kennedy gave HU some breathing room by completing an old-fashion three-point play at the two minute mark to push the Foresters back on top 83-80. A Ferdinand Morales-Sota bucket down low cut the lead to one with just over 30 ticks remaining but the Foresters proved why they lead the nation in free throw shooting as they knocked down four freebies in as many attempts to seal the road win.
Kellen Zawadzki netted 27 points to lead the Forester charge. Shively finished with 23 points and a game-high five assists. Shane Merryman notched a double double with 17 points and ten boards and Kennedy followed suit by scoring 15 points and ripping down a game-high 12 rebounds. Qadr Owens led all scorers with 30 points. Joining him in double digit scoring was DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis with 23 and Morales-Sota with 15.
The Foresters finished the game shooting 56.9 percent (29-for-51) from the floor and 80.0 percent from the charity stripe (24-for-30). HU outrebounded the Cougars 37-32. Box Score