ANDERSON — After trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, the Anderson University men's basketball team fought back to take the lead on several occasions in the second half.
The problem wasn't the resiliency and the fight. It was the problems that put them in that position in the first place.
Hope College senior guard Jason Beckman lit up the Ravens for 27 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 at the free-throw line as AU dropped its third straight game 86-78 Saturday afternoon.
Anderson fell to 3-8 with the loss while Hope improved to 7-4. It was the first meeting between the schools.
The Ravens grabbed a quick 5-0 lead to open the game on a 3-point shot by Stanley Duncan and an alley-oop dunk by Frankton graduate Maurice Knight.
But Hope took advantage of a pair of Ravens turnovers to go on a 9-3 run to take the lead and used another 10-2 run midway through the first half to seize control and go into the locker room with a 44-38 lead. All told, the Ravens committed 10 first-half turnovers, many through careless and sloppy play.
"We've got guys on this team whose character won't let them quit," AU coach Owen Handy said. "But the fact that we've had to be so resilient this year is a reflection of the fact that we've been really, really inconsistent. ...I never worry about if we're going to play hard, but competing is focusing on the things that matter to winning. And we've had stretches where we don't do the things that matter to winning. We don't fight for the best shots. We don't play off two feet when we drive. We don't consistently execute our defensive game plan."
One consistent performer on this day, and throughout the season, was Stanley Duncan. He was 4-for-4 from 3-point range in the first half and 6-for-8 for the game, leading the Ravens with 26 points. But a newcomer, playing his first significant minutes for the Ravens, added an offensive spark that figures to get better as he becomes acclimated with his teammates.
Junior DeVante Mayes, a transfer from Division I Western Illinois, scored eight points in the first half, including a 3-point shot from about 26 feet and finished the game with 14, going 4-for-8 from long range, and handed out five assists.
"He's obviously a really good basketball player. He's a really, really good shooter," Handy said. "He knows all of our sets, but he doesn't know our motion really well. It's a little hard for the guys around him to play with him because there isn't a flow to what we do. But he's extremely coachable, he's very willing to learn and I'm hopeful and optimistic that, over time, he's going to become a really important part of what we do."
The Ravens saw the halftime deficit grow to seven at 48-41 in the second half before Mayes sparked an 8-0 run with an assist and a 3-point shot. The run was capped by another 3 by Malik Laffoon for a 49-48 Ravens lead. The lead changed five more times, with Duncan giving AU its final lead at 69-67 with a long-range jumper.
But Hope's top two scorers, Beckman and Riley Lewis, scored the next four points to retake the lead for good. The Flying Dutchmen connected on 23-of-27 free throws but were a perfect 12-for-12 in the final four minutes to hold off the Ravens.
Cole Hartman added 16 points for the Ravens, and Knight scored 11 and led AU with eight rebounds.
The Ravens will return to HCAC play with a pair of games this week, hosting Defiance on Wednesday and Bluffton on Saturday.
"We have played a really tough non-conference schedule with the hope that it would expose our flaws and force us to get better," Handy said. "We have a very coachable group. I believe with our veteran guys and with tough guys on our roster like Stanley Duncan, our guys will get better and this will pay dividends as we get back into our conference schedule."