Story by Spring Arbor Athletics
SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – The Spring Arbor University (Mich.) men's basketball team have started the year off with a bang. In the 10th annual WHAC vs. Crossroads League Challenge, the Cougars swept the weekend, and did so in remarkable fashion, with an 81-59 win over Aquinas (Mich.) Friday night before toppling last year's national runner-up and No. 1 ranked Cornerstone (Mich.), 87-81, on Saturday.
Sophomore Paul Marandet led the way for SAU on Friday and Saturday night as he posted team-highs in scoring and assists in both contests. Marandet posted a double-double Friday as the Cougars routed Aquinas on the opening night of the two-day event. He followed that performance up with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists against the NAIA's top-ranked team as SAU held on late to finish off Cornerstone.
Sat, Oct. 28 vs. Cornerstone
FINAL SCORE: (RV) Spring Arbor 87, (1) Cornerstone 81
LOCATION: SAU Fieldhouse | Spring Arbor, Mich.
RECORDS: Spring Arbor 3-0, Cornerstone 0-2
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Both offenses went back and forth in the opening 10 minutes of this game. Cornerstone pushed the lead to as many as six, 17-11, as they were led early by Sam Vander-Sluis and their two-time All-American Kyle Steigenga.
- The Cougars weathered the early blitz from the Golden Eagles and regained the lead with a huge contribution from the bench as Luke Barber and freshman guard Ben Geschke knocked down three huge triples to put SAU up seven.
- The rest of the half was played extremely tough from both sides as the two teams traded buckets down to the final minute. The half was capped with a Steigenga triple at the buzzer to trim the deficit to two and send the Cougars in up 40-38.
- Vander-Sluis and Steigenga were a two-headed monster for the Golden Eagles as they combined to score 29 of their first half points 38.
- The Cougars had an answer in the second half for Vander-Sluis, holding him to only two points over the final 20 minutes.
- With Vander-Sluis taken out of his game it just made more room for Steigenga to step up. He helped not only keep Cornerstone in it, but pushed them back into the lead as him and Michael Bradshaw scored on three straight possessions to put the visitors up 59-58.
- The lead was short lived for CU, however, as Barber knocked down two huge free throws on his way to a career-high 14 points.
- Then Marandet hit a tough driving lay-up followed by a four-point play from senior Zach Medendorp to put the Cougars in front for good with 7:12 left in the game.
- The Cougars extended the lead to 10 and then hit several free throws down the stretch to hang on. Geschke was calm and collected from the charity stripe as he hit both attempts in the final seconds to seal the win.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- SAU knocked the No. 1 team in the NAIA off at home for the first time since beating Robert Morris (IL.) in 2009.
- Marandet was phenomenal as he scored 37 points, 16 assists and nine boards on the weekend.
- Medendorp was spectacular as well scoring 17 prior to fouling out late against the Golden Eagles.
- The Crossroads League teams went 4-0 on the weekend as No. 6 ranked Indiana Wesleyan University knocked off Cornerstone on Friday night in overtime and Aquinas on Saturday.