HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The No. 20 Forester men’s basketball team wasted little time taking control of Tuesday’s Crossroads match-up against No. 8 University Saint Francis (15-6). HU scored the game’s first 11 points on their way to a 72-60 upset over the Cougars.
With this win, the Foresters (17-4) jump back into a tie with USF for the top spot in league standings as each have a 7-2 conference record. The victory also snaps USF’s five-game win streak over Coach Platt and company. HU is now 3-2 against ranked opponents this season.
Both teams entered the contest as two of the best shooting teams in the country as well as two of the nation’s top defenders, each giving up right around 66 points per night, but on this particular night; it was the Foresters who outplayed their rankings.
HU canned 9-of-18 from behind the arc to outshoot their No. 6 ranking in 3-point field goal percentage (40.1%) by nearly ten percent. They got it done on the other end of the floor as well. The Foresters, currently ranked 7th in points allowed (66.1), limited USF to just 60 points on 36.1 percent shooting.
A credit to HU’s menacing defense, the Cougars shot well below their 12th-ranked season average of 50.2 percent. Another key to their success was limiting Scott Kohne, the Cougars’ second leading scorer and offensive catalyst, to just two points in the first half.
Kohne unleashed for 18 points in the final twenty minutes but it was too little too late as Huntington’s 39-22 lead by intermission proved to be too much to overcome.
TJ Short was the key to his team’s first half success. He played a masterful twenty minutes to set the tone. All 12 of the 6-5 senior’s first half points came from behind the arc with two of his long balls coming during an eight-minute stretch that extended HU’s 13-6 lead into a 33-10 blowout by the 4:54 mark.
While the Cougars recovered six points in the final minutes of the period, they still headed into the locker room facing a 17-point deficit.
Ryan Boester made sure to squelch any momentum USF took into break by scoring the half’s first five points. He followed up a long two with his second trey of the night to extend the lead to 22 at 44-22 within the first minute of play.
A balanced Forester attack coupled with a solid defensive effort over the next 16 minutes kept the visitors from generating any significant runs during which the hosts never let the lead dip below 15.
With just under three minutes to go, Scott Kohne gave his Cougar fans a glimmer of hope as he rattled off six points in a 90-second span to trim the lead to 11 at 65-54 with 1:15 on the clock but the Foresters went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe to make sure USF got no closer.
Short finished with a team-high 21 points which included five triples and a monster dunk with about two minutes remaining. Shane Merryman tallied 14 points, five assists and two steals while Derek Hinen topped all rebounders with 11 to go along with nine points and five assists.
Kegan Comer and Scott Kohne poured in 22 and 20 points respectively to pace the Cougars.
The Foresters travel to #RV Marian University on Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.