In a game that pitted the top two free throw shooting teams in NAIA Division II, it was the Forester men's basketball
team (15-5, 4-3) that knocked down 26 free throws in the second half to slide past Spring Arbor University (11-11, 3-5) 83-78 on Saturday afternoon.
Neither team sizzled the nets in the first half but it was the Foresters who cashed in on more threes and found their way to the free throw more frequently to go up 33-27 by halftime. The Cougars only lead came on the opening possession and after two ties in a 90 second-span, little did anyone know Kellen Zawadzki's three would give HU the permanent lead two minutes into the game.
DJ Baisden's bucket at the 12:09 mark pulled the Cougars within three at 16-13 but it would be nearly four minutes before the ball found the bottom of the net as Caleb Kennedy's rebound bucket finally broke the dry spell with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. Back-to-back free throws by Bobby Jolliff with just under four minutes to play in the half extended HU's lead to ten at 30-20. The Cougars answered with a 7-0 run but the Foresters closed the half with three freebies to push their lead back to six.
The second half was more of the first as the Foresters couldn't shake the Cougars but remained in control throughout the stanza. Spring Arbor closed within four on three different occasions but each time the Foresters' answer came by way of the free throw line. While HU only managed 11 field goals in the final twenty minutes, they made good on 26-for-32 free throws (81.3 percent) to keep the Cougars at arm's length until the final buzzer.
Tyler Shively led the HU charge with 24 points, 17 of which came from the charity stripe. Zawadzki and Kennedy finished with 19 and 12 points respectively. Bobby Jolliff came off the bench to record 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Baisden led all scorers with 32 points. Joining him in double digits was Willie Pickvet with 23 and Matt Howe with 12.
As a team, the Foresters rank second in free throw percentage (78.0 percent) in NAIA Division II behind the Cougars who are knocking down 79.9 percent of their attempts.