MU falls short in HCAC thriller

MU falls short in HCAC thriller

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A back and forth battle with plenty at stake for both sides in the hunt for the 2015 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference gave fans inside Stauffer-Wolfe Arena their money's worth Saturday, Jan. 31.

Manchester University, wrapping up a tough luck week of two losses by a combined eight points, pieced together another sparkling offensive effort in front of its home crowd in an 87-84 overtime loss to Transylvania University of Kentucky. The trio of junior forward Matt Brown (Hobart, Ind.) and sophomore guards Chase Casteel (Monrovia, Ind.) and Blake Brouwer (Elkhart, Ind.) resumed its remarkable recent roll and was joined by junior guard Brady Dolezal (Tipton, Ind.) in double figures. Brown tallied a game-high 22 points, while Casteel ended with 19 and proved tough inside the paint with seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Brouwer added 18 points, thanks to a scintillating four-of-five effort from outside the arc, to go with seven rebounds, and Dolezal closed with 12 points.

MU (5-14 overall, 4-8 HCAC) roared out of the gate against the visiting Pioneers (10-9 overall, 7-5 HCAC). They scored 13 of the first 22 points and continued to build the lead to as much as 17 (39-22) with 6:51 left in the opening half. However, TU answered with a key 15-2 stretch to end the frame, cutting the advantage to 41-37, and kept the string going in the second half. After a successful three-pointer with 14:11 to play in regulation, the visitors had compiled a 34-9 roll for a 56-48 lead.

The Black and Gold, urged on by their home fans, came right back. A 19-3 roll, punctuated by a long three-pointer by Casteel, gave them a 69-61 lead with 5:57 left. Transylvania had enough left for one final comeback though, ending the second half on an 11-3 stretch to send the game into overtime at 72-72. MU led 78-74 early in the extra session, but the Pioneers, continuing the game's ebb and flow theme, responded with a 13-6 run over the remaining 3:47 to gain the decision.

Despite the hard-fought defeat, the Spartans remain just two games out of the top six with six games to play. Manchester University opens a set of back-to-back road tests Wednesday, Feb. 4, traveling to Bluffton University of Ohio's Sommer Center for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

NOTES: Brown's double-figure scoring run stretched to 10 in a row, while Casteel's increased to eight. Brown, ranked fourth in the league in scoring (17.8 points per game) has peppered the streak with six 20-point-plus outings and eight games where he's hit multiple three-pointers. Casteel, whose average has sky-rocketed better than six points (3.4 – 9.6) in his skein, has totaled 20-points-or-more twice and hit multiple three-point buckets in seven successive contests over the span … The four individuals tallying double digits marked the seventh time in the last eight games that MU has had three-or-more do so.