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Foresters score Crossroads victory

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The No. 24 Huntington University women’s basketball team picked up a 62–55 victory over Mt. Vernon Nazarene in a Crossroads League contest on Saturday in Ohio. The victory raised the Foresters’ season record to 8–3, including 1–2 in the Crossroads League play.

Huntington got off to a hot start, opening play on an 8–0 run. The Cougars finally got on the board midway through the first quarter, but the Foresters then strung together a 5–0 streak to extend their lead to 13–2 just over six minutes into the game. After the first quarter, Huntington held a 15–6 advantage.

After Mt. Vernon Nazarene scored the opening bucket in the second quarter, the Foresters again put together a big run, this time 8–0, to grab a 23–8 lead midway through the period.

However, the Cougars would respond this time with a 7–0 streak of their own to cut the Huntington lead to eight points with 2:46 remaining in the frame. Mt. Vernon Nazarene would go on to cut the Forester lead to just five by the end of the half, with Huntington holding a 26–21 advantage entering the break.

The Foresters again played well in the offensive end in the third quarter, sinking a pair of 6–0 runs in the frame to possess a 46–32 lead after three quarters, outscoring Mt. Vernon Nazarene 20–11 in the period.

The fourth quarter would prove to be a different story, as the Cougars roared to open the frame on a 12–4 run to cut the Huntington lead to six points. Despite the late push from Mt. Vernon Nazarene, the Foresters held up, sinking eight free throws—five of which came from senior guard Maddie Richer—in the final minute of play to earn the 62–55 victory.

“We needed a win pretty badly after starting out 0–2 in the conference against pretty good competition,” said head coach Lori Culler. “Of course, Mt. Vernon’s record would indicate they’re a pretty good team, too. We were hoping to go over there and felt like if we played well (and) if we shot well, we thought we would have a chance to beat them. … Mt. Vernon has been a tough place for us to play. It’s our longest conference road trip, so it’s always good when you can come away with a win over there.”

Junior forward Sarah Fryman led the Huntington offense with 19 points, adding a team-high eight rebounds. Fryman sank all nine of her free throw attempts in the victory for the Foresters.

Sophomore guard Sam Hammel showed signs of returning to her old self, tallying 16 points for the Foresters. Hammel hauled in six rebounds and snagged a game-high five steals in the game. Hammel also posted two assists, tying Richer and senior forward Brooke Saylor for the team lead.

“Probably the most exciting thing about the game for me was that I saw some glimpses of the Sam Hammel prior to her injury,” Culler said. “That was really fun to see. Especially in the first quarter, she did a lot of damage in terms of scoring and defensively coming up with at least I think three steals. (I) just saw some really good things out of her. Hopefully, bit by bit, the rust is coming off and hopefully we’ll keep her healthy the rest of the year and we can just keep going forward from here.”

Taylor Gregory scored a game-high 23 points for the Cougars to go along with five rebounds, a trio of assists and a game-high two blocks.

Elizabeth Fee scored 14 points off the bench for Mt. Vernon Nazarene in the losing effort. Cassidy Cain reeled in a game-high nine rebounds for the Cougars.

The Foresters will return to action on Dec. 4, hosting No. 10 Taylor in another Crossroads League duel and is set to begin at 7 p.m. in Platt Arena.