Unranked Cougars Shock No. 13 Pilots
Story by Bill Scott, Saint Francis Sports Information
MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Ethan Hussey couldn't have picked a better time to have a 'senior moment' for Saint Francis (Ind.).
Hussey buried a 3-pointer with eight seconds to play for a 78-75 USF lead at 13th-ranked Bethel (Ind.) and the Cougars edged the Pilots, 80-79, on Saturday afternoon in a Crossroads League game.
Scott Kohne added two crucial free throws with four seconds left for what proved to be the winning points for the Cougars, who zeroed in from 3-point range to hit 7-of-11 shots in the final 20 minutes. Josh Hogan was a major contributor from the arc hitting 4-of-6 shots in the second half including three consecutive to open the second half for the Cougars.
USF (16-10, 8-6 CL) shot .500 from 3-point range hitting 9-of-18 shots. The Cougars, who improved to 5-2 against NAIA Top 25 teams, came into the game shooting .295 from the arc for the season.
The loss dropped the Pilots (20-6, 11-3 CL) into a three-way tie with Indiana Wesleyan and Taylor for the league lead.
"Our defense was pretty solid from the point we got down 17-4 and then we got a couple baskets in transition," USF Head Coach Chad LaCross recalled. "In our 3-man, they were forcin' us to shoot jumpers, so we started runnin' more ball screen stuff to free our guards up and got more movement in our offense. Ethan hit a 3 in there when we reversed the ball and you know hitting even one 3 helps free things up inside and gives our bigs some space."
The Cougars outscored the Pilots 15-2 to tie the game at 19. BC shot back in front with a 9-0 run, but again the Cougars clawed back and only trailed 34-32 at halftime after a Seth Small steal and score just before the end of the first half.
"I jotted down all the negatives on the board in the locker room, but made the point that despite all these things, the positive is that we're only down two," LaCross said. "If we go out and clean the negatives up, we've got a great opportunity to put ourselves in position to win. We changed how we defended the ball screens and that helped our rebounding.
"Then we knocked down free throws down the stretch. Scott did a nice job of not forcing things and Hogan gave us a big boost right off the bat in the second half. He did a nice job of steppin' up and hittin' those 3s. He changed what they wanted to do defensively."
With Hogan blazing away from the perimeter and Kohne adding a two-point shot, USF outscored BC 11-2 to jump out in front 43-38 with 17:02 to play in the second half. Kevin Bloom joined the USF 3-point assault hitting one at 14:56 extending USF's lead to 48-41. BC bounced back with a 12-0 outburst that appeared to regain control for the Pilots, 53-48, after two Matt Schauss free throws with 11:57 to play.
BC opened up a 57-51 lead and kept USF at bay until a Kohne bucket and Hogan 3-pointer knotted the game for the third time at 69 with 3:27 to play. The Pilots regained the lead and still led 75-71 at 2:04. Kohne ignited USF's charge to the win with two free throws at 1:48 and Brad Sneary rebounded and scored at 1:20 for a tie at 75 setting the stage for Hussey's 3-pointer following a Kohne steal.
"We got a stop, and we called timeout," LaCross said. "We got it in to Scott where we wanted to, and they doubled hard on Scott, and he did a great job of findin' Ethan wide open at the top of the key, and he did what you expect a senior to do, knock down the big shot."
Hussey finished with 17 points while Kohne scored 14 of his team-leading 18 points in the second half. He also grabbed 14 rebounds securing his 14th double-double this season. Kohne also had three steals and two blocked shots. Hogan scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and Small scored 12 for the game, seven in the second half. Sneary just missed a double-double grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring eight points.
BC's Ryan Benner led all scorers with 23 points. Schauss added 19 points and Jordan Bowerman scored 15.
USF won despite the Pilots shooting .516 on 16-for-31 gunning in the second half. USF connected on 7-of-11 shots from 3-pointer range in the final 20 minutes, a .636 shooting percentage, to offset BC's overall shooting. After shooting 50 percent from the free-throw line in the first half, USF shot .765 in the second half hitting 13-of-17 free throws. BC shot .706 on 12-of-17 free-throw shooting, but just 1-for-5 from 3-point range. BC outrebounded USF 31-29 and USF won despite turning the ball over six more times (18-12).
USF resumes play at home against NAIA No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday at 7 p.m.