Pilots fall to Huntington 87-81

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In a huge Crossroads League showdown full of stars, it was a freshman who took control of Tuesday night’s men’s basketball game between Huntington University and Bethel College. Huntington’s Derek Hinen scored 33 points to lead the Foresters to an 87-81 victory.
Bethel lost against Huntington 87-81 Tuesday night.
Bethel lost against Huntington 87-81 Tuesday night.
The game started out well for the Pilots. Three early buckets from Ryan Benner had Bethel rolling. Hot shooting from the senior guard would be a theme throughout the night. The game was back-and-forth for the entire first half as neither team built a lead larger than five. Huntington could not take care of the ball, but Bethel could not seem to grab a rebound. At halftime, the Foresters had a whopping 16 team turnovers but the Pilots had a measly 8 team rebounds. The Foresters’ hot shooting was also an equalizer. They shot 61 percent from the floor and 60 percent from three in the first half. Because of that, Huntington was only down 37-34 at halftime despite the turnover troubles. The Foresters came out strong in the second frame with a 5-0 run, but the Pilots quickly answered on an offensive rebound and dunk from Pat Oetting. After back-to-back threes from senior guard Landon Booker, it seemed that the Pilots were in control. Whenever Bethel grabbed momentum, the Foresters seemingly hit a three. Hinen was the main culprit. The freshman’s stellar play overshadowed a sub-par performance from Huntington star Shane Merryman to that point. As the game wore down, however, Merryman would leave his mark. He gave the Foresters a four-point lead late in the game with a three-point play the hard way, then scored three the more conventional way the next time down the court. Then Hinen hit ANOTHER three and the Foresters built a commanding 72-64 lead with 4:41 to go. To the Pilots’ credit, they never gave up. A quiet game for star Zach Miller got much louder late in the game as he hit two deep threes when Bethel needed them most. With 1:20 to go, Huntington held a 76-72 lead. It all came down to free throws, and Huntington did not falter. They closed out the game, winning 87-81. The win gives the Foresters sole possession of second place in the Crossroads League and gives them the season sweep over the Pilots. Benner led the Pilots in scoring with 31, putting him over the 1,500-point mark for his career. Oetting led the team with nine rebounds and junior guard Matt Schauss led the team with four assists. Miller hit three more three-pointers to up his season total to 104, which leads NAIA Division II. The Pilots fall to 21-6 on the season and 10-5 in the Crossroads League. Their next game is Saturday, February 15 at 3 p.m. at home against Mount Vernon.
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