FORT WAYNE, Ind. – After a tough loss to the No. 1 Wildcats of Indiana Wesleyan, the University of Saint Francis Cougars (16-5; 3-5 Crossroads) faced off against the Goshen College Maple Leafs (3-17; 1-10 Crossroads) Saturday afternoon in Hutzell Athletic Center, and stormed back to win 100-85 after trailing 17-0 to start the game.
However, the game started bleak for the Cougars. Less than three minutes into the game they fell behind 13-0 before having to take their first timeout of the game. Three minutes later the score was 17-0 and something had to change.
After another timeout and several substitutions, the Cougars got the scoring started with a couple made free throws by sophomore center James Anderson. Freshman forward Garrott Ott-Large followed with a three-pointer, and the Cougars took off from there.
The next several minutes went back and forth before sophomore guard Dan McKeeman made a three to cut the deficit to one. Now with under six minutes to play in the first half, junior guard Antwaan Cushingberry made consecutive three-pointers to tie the game at 30, and eventually put Saint Francis ahead 33-30.
From there, the Cougars had all the momentum and built upon their lead before taking a 51-34 lead going into halftime.
“We brought in the second group, and they came in with a lot of energy,” Head Coach Chad LaCross said when discussing the substitutions. “We moved the ball well, forced them to defend, I thought they got great looks and obviously made shots and that makes a difference. It was great to see our bench step up and have great production today.”
Despite their slow start, the Cougars scored 51 points in the final 15 minutes of the first half, outscored the Maple Leafs 51-17, and Ott-Large and McKeeman both had double-digits in the frame, each with 12 points.
Now with a lead going into the second half, the Cougars built upon their lead in the early minutes of the frame, extending their lead to as big as 22 points.
The Maple Leafs stayed resilient and continued to fight with the Cougars, but the strong lead remained intact as Saint Francis snaps their three-game skid.
“You could see during the game it elevate as far as intensity and communication on the floor,” Coach LaCross said. “I credit our bench, and the production, communication, and intensity out of them was fun to see today.”
Throughout the game, the Cougars shot 58 percent from the floor, 45 percent from beyond the arc, and 70 percent from the free throw line. Five Cougars scored double-digits: James Anderson (12), junior guard Jalan Mull (14), Garrott Ott-Large (12), junior guard Antwaan Cushingberry (13), and Dan McKeeman with a team-leading 18 points.
The Cougars resume play on Monday when they travel to Upland, Indiana for a road conference game against the Taylor University Trojans (8-8; 2-6 Crossroads) to makeup a game postponed earlier this month starting at 7:00 pm.