FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Playing NAIA Top 25 teams had brought out the best in the University of Saint Francis in seven games this season.

Make it eight after the Cougars tripped up No. 6 Mt. Vernon Nazarene University 86-74 at Hutzell Athletic Senior on ‘Senior Day’ on Saturday afternoon.

It was USF’s second consecutive win over an NAIA Top 25 opponent and gives the Cougars three consecutive wins to finish regular season play. USF will open Crossroads League Tournament play on Wednesday night, Feb. 20, at No. 11 Marian University.

“Of course you always want to win the final home game of the season and Senior Day adds to the significance,” USF Head Coach Chad LaCross emphasized. “What a great way to say thanks to our two seniors — Chandler White and James Mayberry.”

White led four Cougars in double figures with 19 points in his 100th game in three seasons for USF. He scored 13 of his points in the first half leading USF to a 39-33 lead at halftime. In the second half Hunter Hollowell led USF scoring with 15 points including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 11:06 to play in the second half. USF led the rest of the way building as much of an 85-71 lead on two Hollowell free throws with 1:07 to play.

White was happy he could help send Cougars’ fans home happy.

“Especially winning the last game I’ll ever play in Hutzell, it’s a great feeling to come out with a win and send me off in a great way,” White said after rising to a tie for 24th on the USF career scoring list with 1,245 points. “Three years have gone fast.

USF was playing a team with length and height advantages, but the Cougars played with confidence and executed the game plan to near perfection.

“I think our confidence (today) starts in practice and our coaches developing a great game plan. We knew what we had to do, how we had to guard (MVNU) and it all fell into place,” White observed.

“We didn’t do anything different from the first half to the second half, we just got the ball to who had the hot hand,” White emphasized when asked about his first half and Hollowell’s second half.”

White was 5-for-5 shooting in the first half, then Hollowell went 4-for-4, 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

And they weren’t the only contributors helping USF improve to 4-2 at HAC against ranked opponents. Jalan Mull came off the bench to score 14 points and Jeff Reynolds added 14 points and five blocked shots. White had two blocked shots. Austin Compton dished out six assists and finished with nine points.

USF shot .556 in the first half and turned up the heat in the second half shooting .652 to finish at .600 on 30-for-50 shooting. USF outrebounded MVNU 30-24 and the USF bench outscored MVNU’s bench 33-12 in a game that had three ties and 12 lead changes.