No. 5 SAU Edges Past Upset-Minded Trojans
SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Taylor gave Crossroads League-leading and No. 5 Spring Arbor all it wanted on Saturday but the Cougars pulled out a 71-69 win to hand TU its sixth loss of the year by one or two points or in overtime.
The game was a back-and-forth affair throughout, featuring 11 ties and 15 lead changes, with no advantage extending beyond seven points. Taylor held that seven-point lead late in the first, but settled for a 35-33 lead at the break.
After Spring Arbor (23-3, 13-1 CL) scored the first six of the second to claim its largest lead of the day, Evan Crowe answered with a three and Jason Hubbard followed a Jake Heggeland block with a tip-in to reclaim the lead.
Taylor opened up a six-point cushion midway through the half, getting a fast-break hoop from Crowe and a pair of CJ Penha free throws for a 58-52. That lead evaporated quickly as well, with SAU scoring the next eight points.
The teams continued to trade punches, with Vincent Miranda nailing a triple for a 63-62 lead and a finish at the rim from Heggeland made it 65-64 in favor of TU with 3:21 to go.
Spring Arbor scored the next four points but Ryan Robinson hit a pair of buckets to keep Taylor alive, forcing the 11th tie of the game at 69-69 with 13 seconds showing on the clock.
A foul with 1.6 seconds remaining sent SAU to the line for two makes and Taylor’s final attempt was stolen away as time expired on the 71-69 thriller.
Spring Arbor got just enough down the stretch to hold off the Trojans, who were without their second-leading scorer, Mason Degenkolb, for the second-straight contest due to injury. The Cougars overcame a three-of-13 performance from deep by shooting 56.0 percent from the field in the final stanza and took 10 more free throws than TU to gain a pivotal seven-point advantage at the line.
Taylor shot just 43.3 percent in the defensive struggle, connecting on only 31.6 percent from beyond the arc in 19 tries.
Robinson posted a team-high 17 points and three assists, with Miranda closing with 16 points and four rebounds. Crowe added 10 points and five rebounds, with Heggeland posting nine points and six boards.
Taylor (11-15, 5-9 CL) will take on another Top-25 foe on Tuesday, when it hosts No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan (22-4, 11-3 CL) for a 7:00 pm start inside Odle Arena.