SPRING ARBOR, Mich. — This will make the Thanksgiving Day turkey and all that comes with it taste even better on Thursday.
USF senior Derek Hinen scores season high 26 points.
Junior Chandler White scores season high 25 points.
Senior Bryce Lienhoop registers fifth double-double of the season — 11 points, 10 rebounds.
Career win No. 180 for USF Head Coach Chad LaCross.
#3-ranked USF 83, previously unbeaten Spring Arbor 73.
Mmmmmm. A delicious way for the preseason favored USF Cougars to start the Crossroads League season on Tuesday night.
“No doubt about it,” LaCross said after the 10-point win that extended the USF win streak to six consecutive games. “(SAU) has played a tough preseason schedule, came into this game unbeaten and that included a win over No. 1 Cornerstone University, so to win here tonight is really big for us. “We did a great job of mixing defenses. We didn’t always turn the ball over when we pressed, but we slowed them down. We moved the ball, shared the ball and even though (Drew Zuidema) hit shots early, we didn’t over extend and stuck to our game plan.”
USF trailed 30-26 with 8:10 to play in the first half before using a 21-10 stretch to reach halftime with a 47-40 lead.
SAU (8-1) got as close as five just twice early in the second half, 47-42 with 18:54 to play on a Paul Marandet, and at 18:18 (49-44) on a Tommy Hamilton floater in the lane. Lienhoop scored at 15:52 for a 10-point margin, 58-48, and the SAU Cougars only got the lead into single digits twice in the final 15 minutes. SAU got within eight at 66-58 with 10:36 to play and again at 8:36, 69-61. Lienhoop scored from the paint to regain an 10-point lead and a White 3-pointer made it 74-61 with 5:49 to play.
“How big were Chandler and Derek?” LaCross inquired. “Both played with the most confidence we’ve seen all year. It was good to see.”
White scored 14 in the first half, one more than his previous single-game high this season. He connected on 4-of-5 shots from the arc and a sizzling 10-of-12 shots overall, a sizzling 83 percent. Hinen, in his first season playing with the Cougars, scored 13 points apiece in each half, hit 9-of-15 shots overall, deftly distributed the ball to teammates.