HUNTINGTON, Ind. - Never write off the Forester men’s basketball team. The No. 20 Lancers of Grace College learned that first hand Saturday afternoon but was able to fend off a late surge to hang on for the 81-75 win in a Crossroads battle at Platt Arena.
It marks Grace’s sixth road win in the last 25 outings at Huntington. GC (17-6, 9-3) is currently tied with Taylor for third while Huntington (12-12, 3-9) settles in at eighth in league standings.
Things weren’t looking good for Coach Platt’s squad as they were on the losing end of a lopsided 64-45 score with just under 12 minutes remaining but TJ Short wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.
The 6-5 forward converted three charity tosses to spark a seven-minute flurry of activity that included an Alec Peterson old-fashioned 3-point play on the next possession followed by a pair of treys and put back by Short on the way to dwindling his team’s deficit to three points at 72-69 by the 5:21 mark.
But that’s where HU’s heroic comeback was cut short. Bruce Grimm Jr. drained a pair of free tosses and then capitalized on a Huntington turnover to grow the lead to seven at 76-69 with three minutes on the clock. The Foresters couldn’t muster another run as the Lancers rode out the closing minutes for the six-point win.
The first half was its own wave of emotion. Shane Merryman came out on fire to bury two from deep in the opening three minutes of play. He followed up with two more scores to give his team an early 17-11 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining in the period.
Merryman scored his 16th point of the game at the 7:23 mark to keep his team six points in front at 27-21 but little did anyone suspect what would happen next. Things took a drastic turn as Huntington committed three consecutive turnovers to fuel a Lancer run.
Grace closed out the half by scoring on eight of their last 12 possessions while the Foresters helplessly watch their lead disappear. Grace outscored HU 23-5 to take a 44-32 into the locker room.
Merryman led five Foresters in double digits with 24 points that included going a perfect 4-for-4 behind the arc. Short poured in 17 points. Peterson finished with 12 points to go along with a team-high five rebounds. Ryan Boester and Colin Featherston each chipped in ten points. Boester also dished out a game-high seven assists.
While HU was able limit Grimm to just ten points, eight below his season average, they couldn’t contain Greg Miller down low as the Lancers pounded the ball inside to own a 44-28 advantage in the paint. Miller recorded game-highs of 25 points and ten boards for the double double. Karl Columbus tossed in 17 points and Elliott Smith added ten more.
The Lancers controlled the boards 34-26 to outscore HU 13-6 on second chance points. The Foresters finished the day 27-for-53 (50.9 percent) from the field which included going 10-for-19 from 3-point land while Grace tossed in 53.3 percent (32-for-60) of their attempts.
The Foresters hit the road on Tuesday to take on 3rd-ranked Indiana Wesleyan at 7:00 p.m.