NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – After a pair of missed free throws by Elmhurst College with 14 seconds remaining in the game, senior Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind. / Fall Creek) went the length of the floor and found fellow senior Abdul Ogunnaike, (Richton Park, Ill. / Thornwood) who laid in the game-winning basket with just six seconds left to lift Manchester University to a 67-66 victory on Monday night in Stauffer-Wolfe Arena. The Spartans also defended one final attempt by the Blue Jays to secure the victory.
Both teams played even through nearly even in the early going on Monday. The Spartans were able to build an 11-point lead midway through the first half. Isaac Schlotterback's (Auburn, Ind. Lakewood Park Christian) layup with 10:23 left in the opening gave MU a 21-10 advantage. The Spartans maintained a comfortable lead over the next few minutes and went back up 11 following a layup by Matthew Westman (Michigan City, Ind. / Michigan City). Westman's layup at the 6:06 mark moved the score to 28-17 in favor of the Spartans. Elmhurst ended the first half on an 11-4 run. Manchester led 32-28 at the break.
The Blue Jays began to take control of the contest in the second half and built their largest lead of the night of seven, 50-43, at the 10:21 mark. However, there was plenty of time left for the Spartans to build their comeback.
Trailing by two with six and a half minutes to play, Adrian Johnson sank a three-pointer that gave the Spartans a 55-54 lead. Following one free throw from the Blue Jays, sophomore Cornell Hampton (Griffith, Ind. / Griffith) sank a jumper from the left corner to put MU back up 57-55.
With under two minutes to play, Elmhurst College hit a three-pointer to take a 65-63 lead. With 43 seconds remaining in the game Elmhurst made one of two free throws to take a 66-63 lead. Adrian Johnson was then fouled with 15 seconds left and converted two critical free throws to keep the Spartans in the game.
Elmhurst's missed opportunities at the charity stripe setup Johnson's penetration and Ogunnaike's layup on the Spartans' final possession.
For the contest, Manchester's defense stood tall as Elmhurst shot 38.1% (24-63) from the floor. The Blue Jays connected on 30.4% (7-23) of their three-point attempts. Elmhurst shot just 52.4% (11-21) from the foul line on Monday night.
Manchester shot 42.1% (24-57) for the game and the Spartans also finished 7-23 from three. The Spartans hit 75% (12-16) of their foul shot attempts.
Adrian Johnson led MU with 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and three steals. Cornell Hampton finished with 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Keiton Hall (Lansing, Mich. / Williamston) chipped in 11 points. Abdul Ogunnaike contributed six points and seven boards in the win.
With Monday's thrilling victory, Manchester improved to 4-6 on the season. The Blue Jays dropped to 5-4. The Spartans will have some time off for Christmas and will then return to action on Monday December 31 at Thomas More. Game time against the Saints in two weeks is currently scheduled for 3 p.m.