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Bush propels HU men to upset of No. 4 IWU

By Scott Hunt  - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

For nearly the first 30 minutes of its Crossroads League game with Huntington on Saturday, Indiana Wesleyan’s fourth-ranked men’s basketball team did what it needed to do to keep the Foresters in pursuit.

The Wildcats used an early 19-7 run to build a 25-15 lead near the midway point of the first half and fought their way to halftime with a 39-34 lead. In the process, IWU limited Huntington’ All-American point guard and second-leading scorer, senior Mike Bush, to just six shot attempts and four points.

The game stayed tight through the early part of the second half, but a 12-3 spurt that began with just under 14 minutes to play gave the Wildcats a 61-52 lead and appeared to put them in control with 10:05 left.

It was Bush, though, that took over after that.

The lightning-quick, 5-foot-7 South Bend Adams product scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in just over the final 10 minutes, and the Foresters outscored the Wildcats 35-23 during that span for a shocking come-from-behind, 87-84 win in Platt Arena.

Indiana Wesleyan’s 23rd-ranked women’s team had a grind-it-out type game against Huntington, but had an opposite script to the men’s contest. The Wildcats, who trailed most of the first three-and-a-half quarters, rallied for a dramatic 60-59 win to stay unbeaten at 3-0 in Crossroads League play.

Bush made 6 of 14 shots from the floor, with one 3-pointer, but did most of his damage from the free throw line by making the final 12 of his 13 attempts, all in the second half. Huntington’s primary advantage in the game was from the charity stripe, making 32 of 40 overall, and 18 of 19 in the decisive final 10 minutes. Indiana Wesleyan hit on just 13 of 24, 11 of 18 in the second half.

“We did a good job (defensively on Bush), but with a good player like that you’ve got to play for 40 minutes. Eventually, he started getting his way and we got on our heels,” said IWU coach Greg Tonagel about Bush.

Huntington led only once in the first half, at 8-6, but a three-point play by Trevor Lockwood, a four-point play from Devon Merder and a pair of Bush free throw forged the second of three ties in the game at 61-61.

After Kyle Mangas scored to put IWU back in front 63-61, Bush tied it on a driving score then gave the Foresters the lead for good at 66-63 with his only triple of the game.

“I just stuck with the process. I’ve been talking with my coaches about finding ways where I can get open,” said Bush. “They’ve just been telling me to be patient. When I’m patient my teammates provide opportunities for me to get open.”

Bush was just one of four Foresters in double figures as Tyler Arens and Konner Platt added 16 points each and Merder finished with 15. Arens also had a pair of big moments in the game’s waning moments. First, he drilled a 3-pointer to put Huntington up 73-68, then after IWU’s Grant Smith made 1 of 2 from the foul line, Arens earned an old-fashioned three-point play putting the Foresters up by their largest lead at 76-69 with 3:25 to play.

The two teams traded scores until two more Bush free throws made it 84-77, but Indiana Wesleyan put together on last desperate charge.

Jacob Johnson converted a basket and free throw and Mangas made 1 of 2 from the foul line with 32 seconds left to make it 84-81. Arens made also made 1 of 2 from the line for Huntington before Canaan Coffey swished home a triple with 16 seconds to play for the Wildcats trimming the Foresters lead to 85-84. Platt’s two free throws with 15 seconds left were the final points of the game and Mangas’ 3-pointer to tie it up bounded off the rim.

“Our team played with great grit and heart,” Bush said. “We’ve been put in this situation before and we usually get down on ourselves, but today it was just a different mentality. Everybody just wanted to show people in the conference that we can play too.”

Mangas led Indiana Wesleyan with 19 points, 16 coming in the second half. Evan Maxwell finished with 17 while Coffey and Grant Smith finished with 11 and 10, respectively.

“We just kept fouling and that just took all the momentum away from us,” Tonagel said. “Then we started to settle. It’s a great lesson for us. “Basketball is a game of possessions, you can look back and we can find 20 possessions we wish we could have back and (the game) comes down to one,” he added. “Our young guys and our new guys are going to have to learn from this.”

In the women’s game, Huntington buried 7 of 14 three-pointers in the first two quarters, and took a 32-26 lead to halftime. Hailey Krewald buried the Forester’s eighth triple of the contest just seconds into the third quarter to give HU its largest lead of the afternoon at 35-26.

Indiana Wesleyan drew within two points at 42-40 but Casey Morton made Huntington’s 10th and final triple of the game to end the third quarter and give the Foresters a 47-41 lead heading to the final 10 minutes.

The Wildcats started the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run and tied the game at 50-50 on a Jene’e Goodwin 3-pointer.

Eastbrook alum Brooke Saylor sandwiched baskets for Huntington around one by IWU’s Nicole Ignasiak and the Foresters enjoyed their final lead at 54-52 with just under five to play.

Indiana Wesleyan took its first lead since, 4-3 when Katie Key drained her third 3-pointer of the day giving the Wildcats a 55-54 lead with just over four minutes remaining.

Saylor converted 1 of 2 free throws to tie the score at 57-57 with 1:03 to play, and had a bucket to tie it at 59-all after Ignasiak had given the Wildcats the lead.

Ignasiak, who scored 11 of her game-high 23 in the fourth quarter made 1 of 2 from the line with 9.5 seconds to play, and Carly Lange blocked away a potential game-winning shot with under a second left to preserve the one-point win for IWU.

Indiana Wesleyan coach Ethan Whaley thought Huntington was just tougher than his team in the first half.

“They were tougher and we were giving up offensive rebounds, 50-50 balls they got every one,” he said. “At the end of the day they were getting buckets in the paint of off paint touch kick outs and we were settling for contested quick jumpers. Give credit to them, Huntington had a good game plan and they threw us off a little bit.

“But we adjusted in our mentality, we showed resolve and said we want to own the paint,” he added. “We got back to it in the second half.”

Ignasiak did own the paint for most of the second half. She scored 15 of her 23 and pulled down six of her 10 rebounds over the final two quarters. Ignasiak also blocked four shots and made two steals to lead the Wildcats.

“I was so proud of her,” Whaley said of Ignasiak. “It was a physical game and she played through contact, that’s out of her comfort zone, but I think she took a big step forward today with that.

“She’s been a monster in the post, another double-double today, but she’s really become somebody that we rely on,” he continued. “She’s kind of been a model of consistency in terms of the way that she produces and in the effort that she gives every single day.”

Goodwin made 4 of 5 from long range to finish with 12 points and Key added 11 points with three triples. Anna Imhoff chipped in six points and handed out seven assists while Brittany Washington finished with four points and a game-high 10 assists for IWU.

Krewald topped Huntington with 15, Sarah Fryman added 12 while Saylor and Casey Morton had 11 points each.

Saylor led the Foresters with nine boards and also handed out five assists.