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Cougars Basketball Wins Upset And OT Thriller

(Photo: Spring Arbor hosts Marian on JTV)

By, Gabriel Schray | JTV Sports | December 4th, 2018

Spring Arbor, Michigan– The Spring Arbor University men’s basketball team is now 11-2 on the season. They played host to Marian tonight. This comes after the No. 23 ranked Cougars were upset by Taylor University over the weekend. The Trojan bench scored 22 points in the 73-67 upset of SAU. Spring Arbor was ready to get back on track and prove they belonged amongst the best teams in the country. They did so after upsetting No. 5 Marian at home in an OT thriller.

Spring Arbor jumped out to an early lead and held it through nearly three-quarters of the first half of play. Marian fought hard and cleaned up their play on the defensive end as the halftime break approached. The Knights gained the lead and went into the half with it, 36-33. The largest first half lead for the home team was seven.

Marian continued their hot streak in the second half, extending their lead right away. The Cougars then began to go step for step with the Knights. With 12 minutes left in the game the Cougars were on their way. A 90 second four point run cut the lead of Marian to just two points.

Brandon Durnell scored eight points in a row as part of the four point run. It was 52-50 Marian at the ten minute mark. Marian missed a critical three and turned the ball back over to Spring Arbor. With 9:24 Durnell was fouled on the drive, he shot two and made both after missing his first free throw earlier in the game. This tied it for the first time in over 12 minutes at 52 a piece.

Nick Welch buried a gorgeous three after subbing in for Durnell and gave SAU their first lead in 13 minutes. 55-52 was the score with 8:17 remaining. Barber fouled Marian’s TJ Henderson and they kept the rock. Cameron Walter buried both of his free throws and got Marian back in the swing of things.

The crowd and bench jumped to their feet at the six minute mark as the Cougars made it 60-56 off of Nick Welch’s incredible layup through traffic. A three ball from Marian made it a one point game. Paul Marandet fouled a driving Wes Stowers and the Knights took the lead 61-60.

Tommy Hamilton went one for two from the charity stripe and tied it up at 61 just before four minutes remained in the game. Marandet tied the game at 63 after Marian hit a pair from the stripe. The contest was tied with 150 seconds to go. Hamilton was shoved out of play- meaning the Knights would shoot a pair from the line again. He hit both to make the tally 65-63.

Beckman laid in a clutch shot from under the basket. He was fouled hard and hit his free throw to make it 66-65. The one point lead was huge for Spring Arbor- as they fouled as soon as they traveled to the other end. One for two was the result and SAU inbounded with 96 seconds remaining.

Marandet hit a jumper from midrange and made it 68-66 with 56 seconds remaining. They then forced a turnover and took a timeout with 34 seconds remaining, The Cougs needed one bucket to seemingly wrap things up at home. Marandet drove the net and was fouled- resulting in his dropping of a pair of free throws.

Marian tried to score in transition resulting in a foul on SAU. TJ Henderson went to the line. He was shooting 85% from the line coming into the contest and hit both of these. The Knights took a timeout with 18 seconds remaining. They then fouled the Cougar on the inbound, allowing Barber to hit the first of his free throws and make it a three point game.

Wes Stowers was then fouled in transition. He hit both of his free throws- making it 71-70. Durnell ran a route for a deep inbounding pass which he mistakenly dished to a waiting Knight. TJ Henderson was then blocked (fouled) on his way down the court, allowing him to hit both free throws and get the 72-71 lead with a little more than five seconds remaining.

Paul Marandet had the chance to become the hero- driving down the court with just over five seconds left. He went for the layup and was fouled hard with four tenths of a second. The Cougar Guard then missed his first free throw and made the second to send SAU to OT.

In overtime the Cougars opened with two threes- jumping out to a 80-76 lead with 3:34 to go in the OT period. Henderson responded with a three of his own to make the score 81-80 just prior to the two minute cut.

SAU’s Durnell scored a gorgeous bucket, extending to lay a score up and in- making it 85-81 with 54 seconds remaining in the overtime period. TJ Henderson then went 2-2 from the stripe to make it 85-83. Marandet continued his onslaught of assists going down low for the Beckman bucket. 87-83 was the score for just seconds before Stowers drained a clutch three on the fast break. Marian waited until the 14 second mark to foul- after which Hamilton hit both free throws to make it a three point contest in the Cougars favor again.

Stowers hustled down the floor and dished it off to Henderson who missed a three ball. This resulted in a pair of missed shots and the ball being sent out of bounds with under a second remaining, meaning a huge Spring Arbor upset.

The game was carried live online on JTV.TV. Highlights of the game will be available online shortly as well. The full game will be broadcast this weekend as part of the Suburban Cheverolet Cadillac Sports Weekend on JTV at 1pm. If you don’t have access to Television or you live outside of the area, you can also watch the game (and JTV) live here on our website by clicking the “Watch Live” tab.

SAU is having one of their best seasons in recent memory. Standing at 11-2 on the season. Head Coach, Ryan Cottingham, directed his program to a nine-game winning streak that matched the program’s all-time record, and was tied for the longest active streak in the country. On November 20th, the Cougs bested 16th ranked University of Saint Francis (Ind.). The final tally was a blowout. Spring Arbor University won in decided fashion, 82-67. It was also the programs Crossroads League play opener.

Coming into tonight’s contest, the team was shooting just under 50% from the floor and hitting three-point buckets at an impressive 38.8% clip. Their 978 points also puts them in the top 20 in scoring offense in the country. 81.5 points per game.

The broadcast crew selected Brandon Durnell as JTV’s player of the game, after he continued his hot streak- going 9 for 13 from the floor. The crew also agreed the play of the game had to be Marandet’s layup in the closing seconds. The consensus was also that this team must belong in the very top of the polls after this contest. They’ll have an even bigger test now on Saturday

Cottingham is in his 20th season as the head coach of the Spring Arbor University men’s basketball program. He has to be terribly happy with the success the program has seen so far this year.

Their next contest will be at home against No. 1 ranked Indiana Wesleyan University. The game will be on Saturday the 8th. You can purchase tickets at the Field House prior to tip off. The contest will begin at 3pm.

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