FORT WAYNE, Ind. – On Wednesday evening, the No. 25 University of Saint Francis Cougars (12-4; 2-2 Crossroads) played host to the RV Olivet Nazarene University Tigers (12-3) at Hutzell Athletic Center and prevailed 89-84 for the team’s second straight win.
After a dominating bounce back victory on Tuesday against Holy Cross, the Cougars hoped to carry their momentum over against the Tigers. As the game started, both teams exchanged blows in the early going, but then with the Cougars ahead 8-6, they went on to score 24 of the next 30 points to jump out to a 10-point lead before the Tigers had to call a timeout.
With two of the Tigers’ starting five fanned by COVID, the Cougars took full advantage. Midway through the frame the Cougars had a 24-14 lead and spent the remaining 10 minutes of the half building upon it.
During the final minutes of the first half the Cougars got several key stops and made a couple more three-pointers to extend their lead to 15 points, leading the Tigers 51-36 at halftime.
Heading into the second half, the Cougars picked up where they left off and maintained their distance from the Tigers. However, midway through the frame the Tigers found momentum and clawed their way back to close the deficit to as little as four points on several occasions.
The Cougars remained composed though and answered back with consecutive makes to extend their lead back to 13 points.
As the final minutes ticked down, the Cougars were clinging to their lead despite the Tigers fighting back one time after another. The closest Olivet Nazarene got was to within two points in the final 20 seconds of play as a made three-pointer made the score 83-81 in favor of Saint Francis, but the Cougars made the free throws that they needed to and preserve the win.
Throughout the game, the Cougars shot 50 percent from the floor, 38 percent from beyond the three-point line, and 65 percent from the free throw line. Antwaan Cushingberry was the team’s scoring leader with 31 points and led in assists with six, while David Ejah led the team with 13 rebounds and added 23 points of his own.