UPLAND, Ind. - After knocking off No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan Wednesday night, the 8th-seeded Foresters men’s basketball team couldn’t recover from the Trojans’ hot shooting behind the arc, losing to 5th-seeded Taylor University 81-75 Saturday afternoon at Odle Arena in semifinal action of the Crossroads tourney.
Huntington wraps up its season with an overall record of 17-15 while the Trojans (21-11) will advance to the championship game on Tuesday where they will face Bethel College at 7:00 p.m.
TU drained eight treys at a clip of 61.5 percent in the opening stanza on their way to taking a 39-30 lead into intermission. Ben Raichel and Casey Coons tore up the nets by going 8-for-10 behind the arc to make sure their team got off to a great start.
The Foresters kept things close through the first six minutes of play but the rims were unkind to HU over the next four minutes as the Trojans outscored their visitors 12- 2 to take the largest lead of the period at 22-10 by the midway point.
Based on TU’s masterful work behind the arc, it seemed like the Trojans were poised to run away with the game but Shane Merryman and Alec Peterson teamed up to score 13 of HU’s final 20 first half points to keep the game from getting out of reach. The Foresters managed to stay within single digits as they headed into the locker room facing a nine-point deficit.
Huntington came roaring out of the locker room, rattling off the first seven points of the stanza to close to within two at 39-37 with just over two minutes gone by in the half. Unfortunately their next seven points took nearly nine minutes to accumulate allowing the Trojans to build the lead back to nine at 53-44 with 11 minutes remaining.
While the Foresters continued to stay within striking distance, they never got closer than six points the rest of the way as TU coasted to the win.
Merryman poured in a game-high 26 points and team-tying six rebounds. Peterson chipped in 14 points and TJ Short tossed in ten points and shared team rebounding honors of six with Merryman.
Coons led TU with 25 points. Also scoring in double figures for Taylor was Raichel with 21, Nate Kasper with 16 and Tommy Peller with 13.
Despite never having the lead, the Foresters finished the game with a better overall field goal percentage. HU shot 54.9 percent (28-for-51) to Taylors’ 53.2 percent (25-for-47) which included going 11-for-20 behind the arc. Huntington also held a slight 26-23 advantage on the boards.