FORT WAYNE, Ind. — No miracle this time for the University of Saint Francis.
Indiana Wesleyan University scored on eight consecutive possessions in the final five minutes and held off the University of Saint Francis 81-80 on Saturday in a crucial Crossroads League clash at Hutzell Athletic Center.
The loss cost ninth-ranked USF sole possession of the CL lead. USF, IWU and Huntington University are tied for first place in the CL with 9-3 records and six games left to play in the regular season. And by the end of a makeup game on Monday at Goshen against Marian, there could be a four-way tie if the Knights win. Goshen plays at Marian on Wednesday, a game already postponed from Tuesday.
The Cougars (17-7 overall) resume play on Tuesday at HAC against Bethel College. Huntington plays at IWU.
Time ran out on USF, Kegan Comer‘s 3-pointer with 0.5 second left making it as close as possible without changing the outcome of a game that had 15 lead changes in the second half, 12 during a seven minutes stretch in the last 10 minutes. It was the kind of game where a slight mis-step could prove costly.
R.J. Mahurin finally gave IWU (19-5) the lead for good with a bucket at 2:53 to play, 72-71. Josh Hoganmissed a 3-pointer for USF and Scott Kohne fouled Jordan Weidner with 2:16 to play. Weidner hit both free throws for a 74-71 IWU lead. The Cougars cut the slim deficit to 74-73 on a Kohne jumper at 1:54, but IWU’s Zac Vandewater answered at 1:26 for a 76-73 lead.
At 1:02 Hogan hit two free throws again trimming the deficit to one, 76-75, but R.J. Mahurin answered with 47 seconds left with a score. Jordan Hahn missed a 3-pointer from the corner, Hogan fouled Weidner near mid-court and Weidner hit both free throws with 28 seconds to play for an 80-75 lead. Kegan Comer scored on a running layup off the glass with 21 seconds left, then Kohne fouled Weidner with 18 seconds to play. Weidner made the first free throw, but missed the second for an 81-77 IWU lead.
Comer missed a shot with eight seconds to play and Lane Mahurin was fouled with six seconds left. Mahurin, R.J.’s younger brother, missed both, but Comer’s 3-pointer was too little too late.
Kohne led USF scoring with 21 points followed by Hogan with 20, Hahn with 17 and Austin Fox with 11.
R.J. Mahurin led all scorers with 30 points, 20 in the second half on 7-for-10 shooting and 6-for-7 shooting from the free-throw line. Weidner added 21 points and Vandewater 11. IWU connected on 15-of-25 second-half shots from the field and 31-of-53 for the game to shoot .585. USF shot .556 in the first half (15 for 27), but .457 in the second half (16 for 35) and finished at .500 for the game (31 for 62).
“They made a couple more plays than we did,” lamented USF Head Coach Chad LaCross. “We did compete the entire game. I thought the way we competed in this game was a lot different than the previous two games, We didn’t do everything right by any means, but we didn’t take any plays off. It was two pretty good teams going nose to nose. I can live with that when lose a game like that. I thought we stayed focused for all 40 minutes tonight.”
USF led by as many as 10 points in the first half, the last time at 34-24 with 5:29 to play. IWU outscored the Cougars 15-9 in the time left in the half.