Double-digit scoring sprees in each half carried the eighth-seeded Huntington University men's basketball team to a big upset of top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan, 81-69, in the first round of the Crossroads League men's basketball tournament, at Indiana Wesleyan, on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
The Wildcats defeated the Foresters 86-76 at Platt Arena on Jan. 2, but Huntington, 17-14, gave Indiana Wesleyan, 25-6, all it could handle in a narrow 61-58 defeat on the road on Jan. 29. Things started off tight between the two teams in their latest meeting, with the Foresters unable to put more than five points between themselves and the hosts, but the three-ball changed the game for Huntington. With a few ticks over 11 minutes left in the first half, Tyler Ault hit two from beyond the arc and TJ Short and Shane Merryman each hit one to spark a 12-0 run for the Foresters that made things 31-16 with just under six minutes remaining before the half.
Huntington took a 39-25 lead into the locker room and stayed hot in the second half, going on a 13-4 run less than two minutes into the frame. Merryman kicked things off with a bucket in the paint, followed by a freebie. Alec Peterson also took to the paint, getting two more on a second-chance basket, before Stephen Jones took things outside and nailed a three. Merryman put in two more for the Foresters and Ryan Boester converted from three-point land to finish the run, giving Huntington a 54-32 lead with 13:48 to go. The Foresters led by double-digits for the rest of the game.
Merryman led all scorers with 28 points. The junior forward shot 11 for 18 from the field and 5 for 8 at the charity stripe, while also collecting five rebounds and passing out four assists.
Short supplied 16 points to Huntington's cause, Colin Featherston added 12 and Tyler Ault had eight.
George Jones IV and Jordan Weidner paced Indiana Wesleyan with 21 and 19 points, respectively, shooting a combined 16 for 26. The Wildcats got a double-double from Patrick Hopkins, who scored 15 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, and 12 points from DJ Bettinger.
Huntington shot 16 of 28 in the first half for 57.1 percent and 6 of 13 from three-point range for 46.2 percent. Indiana Wesleyan managed to make only 10 of 26 shots in that timeframe for 38.5 percent and went 0 for 3 from beyond the arc.
Numbers were closer for the game, with the Wildcats hitting 26 of 54 shots for 48.1 percent and the Foresters sinking 30 of 56 shots for 53.6 percent.
Alec Peterson and Short headed the Foresters' efforts on the boards with seven apiece.