DEARBORN, Mich. — Though the final few seconds got ‘sporty’, No. 2 University of Saint Francis found a way to win its 12th consecutive game on Friday afternoon edging No. 23 University of Michigan-Dearborn 69-67.
The Cougars picked up their 13th win and withstood a late surge from the Wolverines, who lost for the third time in four games.
Senior All-American Bryce Lienhoop scored 11 of his team-leading 19 points in the second half and Evan Henry added 17 points including crucial 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Derek Hinen added 12 points while Lienhoop and Chandler White grabbed 13 rebound apiece. Lienhoop registered his seventh double-double this season and the 29th of his career.
“To out rebound that team by 15 and to also have 16 offensive rebounds says a lot about our effort,” USF Head Coach Chad LaCross asserted. “Our dominance on the boards was a key without a doubt.”
USF controlled a 16-4 advantage on the offensive boards, a 46-31 advantage overall in rebounds.
“I really thought the steady play of Evan Henry and Bryce Lienhoop was the difference,” LaCross observed. “Evan at times doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being so solid night in and night out. He was aggressive on both ends and knocked down the opportunities he got. Bryce made some huge plays down the stretch that led us to the victory. We didn’t play our best today, but found a way to get another road win vs. a ranked opponent. We have to regroup and be better tomorrow for out game at Aquinas.”
After six ties in the first 15 minutes, Lienhoop scored to give the Cougars a 26-24 lead with 5:04 to play in the first half. USF led the rest of the game though the Wolverines never let the Cougars get very comfortable. Despite shooting 40 percent in first half, 17 percent from 3-point range on 2-of-12 shooting, USF still led 33-26 at halftime.
USF freshman Hunter Hollowell stretched the lead to 10, 59-49, on a breakaway dunk with 7:36 to play, USF’s first double-digit lead of the game. Henry buried a 3-pointer for a 12-point advantage, 63-51 with 6:25 to play. UMD whittled away at the deficit and Xavier Crofford’s 3-point with five seconds left slashed that one-time comfortable USF lead to two. Hollowell missed the front of a bonus free throw with 0.5 seconds to play and UMD got the rebound and called time out with 0.1 left to play. All the Wolverines could do was throw the inbounds the length of the court and didn’t get away a final shot.
The 12 consecutive wins ties the third longest winning streak in USF history set in 2015-16.