HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The Huntington men's basketball team upset #14 Bellevue University 81-78 on Saturday of the Ness Bros. Hall of Fame Tournament to keep the tournament title at home. The last time the Foresters won the Hall of Fame tourney was 2014 when Platt's crew beat Asbury 75-68.
It was a three-point fest early on as HU's first 12 points all came beyond the arc while the Bruins (3-4) spent the first ten minutes draining five long balls which accounted for half of their points. Bellevue got the better end of the deal as they more than doubled up their hosts, 30-14, by the 10:10 mark.
To live or die by the three can quickly backfire and that's exactly what happened. While the Bruins went cold, HU reeled off 14 straight points. Caleb Middlesworth spearheaded the run with seven points to draw the hosts back within two at 30-28 with five minutes left in the half on the way to a single point separating the two teams by halftime.
"I'm very proud of our guys' effort and determination today," said Platt. "We didn't start the game like we wanted to, but we did a good job of keeping our composure and focus. Bellevue was hot to start and we were shooting a bit quick in hopes of answering their hot shooting."
The Bruins' 40-39 halftime advantage was erased within the first ten seconds of the second period on a Tyler Arens' dump down to Middlesworth for the easy lay in. It ignited a 9-2 run to give HU its largest lead of the day at 48-42 at the 17-minute mark.
While no more than two possessions separated the two teams over the next 15 minutes, Platt's crew maintained control throughout except for a 15-second span when Bellevue knotted things up at 62s with just under seven minutes remaining. Zac Owens immediately responded with a ten-footer to put his team back on top for good.
The next five minutes saw the Foresters extend their advantage to seven, 80-73, with just over 90 seconds remaining highlighted by Konner Platt scoring on back-to-back possessions and Nick Macon making good on a traditional three-point play.
"The fight we showed down the stretch is encouraging," noted Platt. "We hit some big shots and tracked down some crucial defensive rebounds late in the game.
"Our willingness to share the ball and defend down the stretch showed some positive signs that we are headed in the right direction after the first couple weeks of the young season."
Bellevue would close the gap to three and have a look to tie things up at the final buzzer but HU averted their visitors for the big W.
Tabbed the tournament MVP, Arens paced HU with a game-best 23 points to go along with seven rebounds. Platt and Owens were also rewarded for their play over the weekend by being named to the All-Tournament Team.
Platt tossed in 17 points while Owens finished with 14 and a game-high nine rebounds. Middlesworth added 15 points for the Foresters. Macon posted 12 points while racking up eight assists to round out a well-balanced Huntington attack.
In addition to shooting nearly 50 percent from the field (26-for-53), the Foresters missed just one freebie by going 18-for-19 to sizzle the nets at a clip of 94.7 percent.
Richard Reed topped the Bruins with 20 points. Other double digit scorers for the visitors included Sequan Walker with 14, Josh Meier with 12, Stephen Matthews with 11 and Jaron Dickson with 10.
With this win, Huntington improves to 5-1. Platt's crew has a week's break before squaring off with Silver Lake on Saturday as part of Grace College's Hoops for Hope Classic.
The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 38 NAIA All-America honors and 296 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.