HU men outlast Grace, 64-62

The Huntington University men's basketball team outlasted visiting Grace, 64-62, on Saturday, Feb. 15.

The Lancers held their biggest lead of the contest, 59-53, with 7:14 remaining in the second half. But in a game that featured nine lead changes, no advantage was safe, as senior TJ Short proved with a basket that ignited a Forester run. Junior Alec Peterson followed it up with a free throw and pair of buckets, both set up by senior Shane Merryman, who then tossed in two points of his own at the stripe, the second of which snatched the lead for Huntington, 62-61, with 2:48 left.

The teams traded misses before Grace's Logan Irwin, son of Huntington North High School boys' varsity basketball coach Rob Irwin, swiped the ball from freshman Derek Hinen and was fouled by Peterson with 47 ticks on the clock. Irwin drained one of the two freebies to knot the game back up at 62-62, then rebounded a three-point miss by Merryman, after which he was fouled by Hinen to go back to the line.

This time, however, Irwin misfired, and Short came down with the board, picking up a foul by former Huntington Eagle Caleb Featherston in the process. Short missed the front end of the double bonus free throw, but sank the back end to put the Foresters in front, 63-62, with 16 seconds remaining. A miss by Featherston on the other end was scooped up by Peterson, who was fouled and headed to the stripe, where he made one of two, giving Huntington what would be the final advantage. With three ticks on the clock, Irwin missed a would-be game-winning three-pointer and the Foresters survived to go to 23-5 overall, 12-4 in the Crossroads League.

Short led all scorers with 19 points, doing most of his damage from beyond the arc, where he drained 4 of 6. He scored 11 points in the first half, helping Huntington lead by six as many minutes into the game, 16-10, before Grace battled back to go up by five at 27-22, with a little over four and a half minutes before intermission. The clubs went into the locker rooms deadlocked at 31.

The conference foes played to five of the contest's nine ties in the first five minutes of the second half, but the Foresters eventually pulled away on a 8-0 points binge to claim their biggest lead of the game, 49-41, at the 13:13 mark. Short tossed in five points and Merryman contributed three during the run, but Grace eventually deflated that cushion and went in front to set the stage for Huntington's late-game comeback.

The teams shot evenly, with the Foresters firing 20 for 47 from the floor for 42.6 percent and the Lancers converting 24 of 56 field goals for 42.9 percent.

Huntington's edge came at the charity stripe, where it went 19 for 29 for 65.5 percent compared to Grace's 7 for 11 for 63.6 percent.

Merryman knocked down 6 of 8 freebies and finished with 16 points, five assists and six rebounds. Peterson and Hinen each supplied nine points to Huntington's offensive effort.

Miller netted 15 points to pace Grace, 16-11, 8-8, while Irwin and Kyle Fillman produced 14 apiece.

Peterson collected a team-high eight rebounds for Huntington, but Grace won the battle of the boards, 37-30.