Hat Tip Huntington University's Website
HUNTINGTON, Ind. - Defense was the name of the game Saturday afternoon at Platt Arena where #9 Spring Arbor Cougars fended off the HU men's basketball team, 61-57, to remain atop the league standings.
SAU (15-3) is currently sitting at the No. 1 spot in the Crossroads League with a 5-1 record while the Foresters are 12-6 overall, 2-4 in conference action.
For the Cougars, 61 points is their lowest offensive output of the season while 57 points is the second lowest output for the Foresters. Both teams entered the contest averaging over 80 points per outing.
It came down to which team could come up with more defensive stops down the stretch and on this given day, the Cougars made the necessary plays to eke out the hard-fought win. While Konner Platt's driving layup with 2:32 remaining gave the hosts a 57-54 lead, it proved Huntington's last points of the day.
What happened next was nothing short of a wing and a prayer as Tom Hamilton's heave-ho well beyond the three-point line as the shot clock expired found nothing but the bottom of the net to force the afternoon's fourth tie, 57-57, with 1:58 to go. On SAU's next trip down the floor, Paul Marandet, a preseason CL first teamer, drained a baseline jumper for the go ahead. He would go on to drop in a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to ice the win.
Nothing came too easy for either team in the opening 20 minutes but it was the steady play of Caleb Middlesworth and Zac Owens that stood out. After managing just four points in the opening five minutes of play, HU got its production from Middlesworth who dropped in eight straight points in just over two minutes to turn a seven-point disparity into a 12-11 advantage by the 12:52 mark.
It was the start of 19-point turnaround that saw Middlesworth rack up seven more points and Owens can two from long range for a 33-21
lead with 2:24 to go in the period. Spring Arbor countered with a 7-2 run to deplete the lead to seven, 35-27, by halftime. Middlesworth finished the frame with 15 points while Owens tossed in ten.
The second half also started off slow for the hosts as they only scored two points from the line through the first seven minutes to allow the Cougars to reclaim the lead at 39-37. Wyatt Hughes finally tallied his team's first field goal of the frame at the 12:45 mark to force the game's third stalemate. The lead would swap back and forth four times until Hamilton's historic triple from the cheap seats forced a final tie with just under two minutes remaining to spur on the Cougar win.
Middlesworth finished with a game-high 19 points. Platt came through for HU in the second half where he dropped in 14 of his 16 points while Owens finished the day with 12. Peyton West collected a team-best ten rebounds.
Marandet topped SAU with 13 points, nine assists and seven boards. Brandon Durnell logged a double double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. Hamilton and Luke Barber also chipped in 12 points each.
The Foresters are at Goshen on Tuesday.
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