HUNTINGTON, Ind. - Shane Merryman and the HU men’s basketball team seem to have Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s number. Saturday afternoon Platt’s squad claimed their second conference win when they handed the Cougars (8-9, 0-5) an 82-69 loss at Platt Arena.
The Foresters (11-6, 2-3) have turned this Crossroads rivalry into a one-sided affair, winning all three of their meetings since Mount Vernon joined the conference last year.
Merryman led a balanced Huntington attack with 23 points and none more historic than his first bucket at the 16:45 mark. The 6-5 junior worked his way down low for his 1,000th career point. He is the 43rd Forester to join HU’s 1,000 point club and joins the ranks of his grandfather Dean Merryman.
The elder Merryman attended Huntington from 1958-1962 and scored 1,855 points. He currently claims the eighth spot on the Foresters’ all-time scoring list.
Alec Peterson came off the bench to add 16 points. He along with Merryman and Tyler Ault grabbed seven boards apiece to claim top rebounding honors. Ryan Boester tossed in 14. TJ Short and Colin Featherston finished with 12 and ten points respectively to round out the Foresters’ double digit scoring.
While many teams would be satisfied with a 40.0 percent shooting performance, for the Foresters it was a sluggish first half as they went an out of character 10-for-25 from the field to play even with MVNU 28-28. Peterson scored nine points to pace HU in the first twenty minutes.
The second half was a different story as the Foresters bounced back to shoot 61.5 percent to eventually pull away from the Cougars. It didn’t happen right away as the first four minutes featured six lead changes and three ties but a Boester bucket with 15:53 on the clock gave HU the lead for good at 40-38.
The Foresters extended the lead to ten at 50-40 by the 12:26 mark but the Cougars showed plenty of grit as they clawed their way back to trim the lead to one at 56-55 with nine minutes remaining.
Merryman and crew made sure it didn’t last. Behind ten points from HU’s leading scorer, the Foresters outscored their visitors 23-8 over the next eight minutes to put the game out of reach and send the Cougars home still looking for their first conference win.
HU won the battle of the boards 35-25 and committed 11 turnovers to the Cougars’ 14. HU shot 51.0 percent (26-for-51) for the game while MVNU connected on 41.5 percent of their attempts which included going an impressive 11-for-25 behind the arc.
Jason Dawson poured in a career-best 40 points on 12-for-16 shooting which included six from deep. He also cashed in all ten of his free tosses. Xavier Holland added ten points while Caleb Williams ripped down a team-high five rebounds for Mount Vernon.
The Foresters have three conference matchups this week starting with a road trip to Spring Arbor University on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.