Huntington, Ind. - It was a matchup that lived up to its billing as No. 3 Davenport University outlasted the Forester men’s basketball team 65-62 to not only capture the Ness Bros. Hall of Fame Tournament title but hand HU their first loss of the season.
In an evenly played contest in which neither team held more than a six point lead, the game came down to which team made the last run which proved to be the third-ranked Panthers who scored the final bucket of the game with 2:09 remaining to hold on for the win.
The first twenty minutes saw four ties and seven lead changes. Shane Merryman led the Forester charge with 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting and nine rebounds to give keep things close. Down 23-22 with 6:22 remaining, the Panthers outscored HU 13-8 to push ahead 35-31 by halftime.
The second half was more of the first as both teams battled for the advantage. The Foresters stayed in front throughout much of first 15 minutes, but the final five minute belonged to the Panthers. Up by four with 4:24 to go, things started to unravel offensively for the home team as Caleb Kennedy’s free throws a minute later proved to be the final time HU would put points on the board. Davenport took full advantage of the situation with a 9-2 run to steal the win and remain unblemished on the season at 4-0.
Merryman tallied a career best 21 points and 16 rebounds for the double double and a spot on the All-Tournament team. Joining him on the All-Tournament team was Ryan Boester who added 13 points and Caleb Kennedy who finished with 10 points and a team-high five assists.
Tournament MVP Lonnie Fairfax scored a team-high 15 points and dished out seven assists for the Panthers. Joining him in double digits was Damacious White with 13. DeArmond Davis added nine points and a team-high nine boards.
The Foresters (5-1) are back in action on Saturday when they host Aquinas College for a 6:00 p.m. tip-off.