Featuring two of the top 20 teams in NAIA Division II, #20 Huntington University men's Foresters basketball
team(15-6, 4-4) dropped a 85-83 decision to the visiting #12 Cougars of Saint Francis (17-5, 6-2) in Tuesday night’s MCC matchup.
HU's big men Caleb Kennedy and Shane Merryman teamed up to score 12 of HU's first 17 points to give the Foresters a 17-9 lead midway through the half. The Cougars came to life as they took advantage of Forester shots that rolled off the rim and several costly turnovers to turn an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead, 29-24, with just under three minutes left in the half. With the momentum clearly favoring the Cougars, Tyler Shively drained a pull up jumper in the lane and Bobby Jolliff kissed one off the glass to fire up the home crowd and pull Huntington within one, 33-32, by intermission.
The Foresters regained the lead to open the second stanza but DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis made sure it was short-lived as his layup sparked a 23-11 run that gave the Cougars a double digit lead, 56-45, at the 12:02 mark. Shively knocked down a long trey and Colin Featherston found his way to the rim to pull the Foresters within six at 56-50 but the Cougars went on a scoring rampage over the next five minutes, outscoring HU 18-5, to take a convincing 74-55 lead with just over five minutes remaining.
It appeared that Saint Francis was in complete command of the game but the Foresters weren't quite ready to wave the white flag. Instead they took their turn at a run as six different Foresters put points on the board to keep things interesting. After a driving layup by Chris Kent that trimmed the Cougars' lead to nine, the Foresters' full court press got the best of Saint Francis as Merryman came up with a steal that resulted in an old-fashioned three-point play by Shively at the 1:30 mark.
Down by six, the Foresters came up with a Cougar miss and this time it was Kellen Zawadzki who cashed in on the old-fashioned three-point play to dissolve the lead to three points with 22 ticks remaining. Forced to foul, the Foresters put Sawyer-Davis at the line who connected on 1-of-2 free throws to give the Cougars a 84-80 lead.
Zawadzki wasted no time finding the bottom of the net on a long bomb to cut the lead to one at 84-83 and send the HU crowd into a frenzy with ten seconds remaining. Forced to foul again, the Foresters sent Qadr Owens to the free throw line where he made good on one of his attempts but the Foresters' hopes of a heroic comeback were denied as Chris Kent's driving layup at the buzzer fell short.
Shively paced the Foresters with 25 points and three assists. Zawadzki finished with 13 points and a game-high ten board to record the double double. Kennedy and Meryrman chipped in 12 and 11 points respectively. Sawyer-Davis poured in 18 points in the final twenty minutes to finish with 25. Owens added 10 points and dished out a game-high six assists. Kosiarek was the only other Cougar in double digits with 10.