HU men keep undefeated season alive with close win

Derek Hinen. Photo provided.

The Huntington University men's basketball team kept its undefeated season rolling with a narrow 56-53 win over host Mount Vernon Nazarene on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The Foresters, 11-0, submitted their worst shooting performance of the season, converting only 19 of 56 field goal attempts for 33.9 percent. The Cougars, however, didn't fare much better, shooting just 37.3 percent on a 19 for 51 showing from the floor to make for an even contest.

Mount Vernon broke open a back-and-forth first half with a late 10-2 run that gave it a 25-16 lead with 2:48 to go until halftime. But Huntington went on a scoring spree of its own to end the half, powered by Columbia City freshmen Derek Hinen and Drew Benedict. Hinen started it at 2:28 by completing an old-fashioned three-point play, sinking a free throw after getting fouled on a made jumper, followed by Benedict swishing back-to-back three-pointers to cap a 9-0 run that knotted things up, 25-25, going into the break.

Just when it appeared that the second half would be going the same direction as the first, with neither team gaining any separation, the Foresters went on an 11-4 run starting at 12:32 that put them in front for the rest of the contest. Senior forward Shane Merryman got it started with a layup, followed by Hinen sinking a pair of freebies and then Merryman doing the same. Junior guard Ryan Boester kept things going with a three and Merryman completed the points binge with a jumper that gave Huntington a 45-37 lead with a little over seven minutes remaining in the game.

Mount Vernon's Eric Roby made Huntington sweat it out after hitting a pair of free throws that narrowed the Foresters' advantage to 55-51 with 35 seconds to go. However, Boester made one of two at the charity stripe to make it 56-51 with five ticks remaining to ice the win. A layup by Roby at the buzzer took the game to its final tally.

Hinen led Huntington with 19 points while Merryman added 15 and corralled a game-high 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year. The Foresters won the battle of the boards overall, 21-18.

Martell Medley paced the Cougars, 3-7, with 19 points. Roby finished with 14.

At the line, Huntington made 13 of 23 for 56.5 percent while Mount Vernon hit 12 of 16 for an even 75 percent.