The Huntington University men's basketball team gave up most of a late 11-point lead but hung on just enough to clip visiting, 14th-ranked Bethel College on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 61-59.
Improving to 14-13 on the season with their second straight win, the Foresters held an 11-point lead at 58-47 with 6:03 left before the Pilots made their comeback. After Bethel's Zach Miller drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Foresters' lead to 60-57 with 1:49 left, the Foresters tallied just one more point, but Bethel, 20-7, could only manage just a single field goal, enabling HU to hold on.
The Pilots' Travis Smith missed a pair of free throws at the 1:37 mark, then after the teams traded missed field goals, Jordan Bowerman hit a second-chance basket in the paint to bring Bethel to within one with 37 seconds left. Bethel stole the ball but then turned it over with 14 seconds left before Shane Merryman hit the front side of a one-and-one to bring the score to 61-59. A desperation three try to Matt Schauss was off the mark for Bethel.
Merryman fought through double and triple-teams all night to lead HU with 14 points, and the junior also added 11 rebounds on the night. Ryan Boester added 13 points for HU and T.J. Short and Stephen Jones each scored 11 points.
Miller led all scorers with 15 points for Bethel, followed by Bowerman with 14, Schauss with 11 and Smith with 10.
HU looked as if it was going to blow Bethel out of Platt Arena in the first few minutes of the game, taking a 20-4 lead as Jones drilled a pair of threes and Boester and Ault also nailed treys. Bethel got it tied up at 24-all with 1:40 left in the frame, and HU took a 28-27 lead into halftime.
In addition to leading the team in scoring and rebounding, Merryman also led HU with four assists.
Boester added seven rebounds and three steals to the HU cause.
The Foresters hit 22 of 59 shots from the field for 37.3 percent and 7 of 10 from the free-throw line for 70 percent. The Pilots hit 20 of 54 field goal tries for 37 percent and 14 of 21 free throws for 66.7 percent.