ANDERSON — Anderson University’s men’s basketball team Wednesday night kept an opponent scoreless in the first four minutes for the third game in a row.
The Ravens rode that tenacity into a 82-71 win over Manchester and, not coincidentally, extended their win streak to a season-best three.
Frankton product Maurice Knight equaled his career high with 18 points and had 11 points in the second half that proved huge for AU (6-8, 5-2 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference).
“It felt good,” Knight said. “It was like, we were a little sluggish at first, but we found a way to win and grind it out.”
Cole Hartman added 17 points, including the Ravens’ first six, as AU built an 8-0 lead and didn’t allow the Spartans (5-9, 2-5 HCAC) a point in the first four minutes and 27 seconds. Hartman led all rebounders with 12.
Stanley Duncan and Mike Peters both chipped in with 14 points, with Peters grabbing 12 boards.
“I didn’t think it was perfect and I didn’t think we put out a lot of energy in the first half,” AU coach Owen Hardy said. “I thought we did a very nice job of building the lead in the second half and did what we needed to do to protect it down the stretch.”
What proved to be the difference was a 16-5 start by the Ravens over the first 8 1/2 minutes. The Spartans made just two of 13 shots and committed eight turnovers in that span.
The Ravens found themselves in a bit of an offensive rut through much of the first half, even when they were building the big lead.
A lot of their shots weren’t falling and as a result, Manchester was able to battle back to within 16-14 and keep it close the rest of the half, which ended 31-27.
Manchester was within 36-34 three minutes into the second half, but Duncan turned a four-point play — one of two by AU in the final 20 minutes — and the Ravens had it back up to six.
AU would keep the Spartans at arms’ length, and a three-pointer by Knight made it 58-46 at the midpoint of the half. The Ravens would soon assume their biggest lead of the night, 64-48.
With just over five minutes to go, Knight was fouled while making a three and he converted the free throw, and it was 74-61. Knight made good on two more foul shots to match his career high, set last week against Defiance.
“It was not pretty, but when you’re a little lethargic, you’ve got to figure out a way to win,” Hardy said. “I thought that would deeply’ describe our game tonight. I thought we were a little lethargic, and we found a way to win.”
AU was 24-for-54 (44.4 percent) and shot 40 percent in the first half and 50 in the second. The Ravens made 28 of 36 free-throw attempts.
Manchester freshman Braydin Myers, from Shenandoah, did not score but had five rebounds, all in the first half. Myers played 14 minutes in a backup role.
The AU women’s basketball team defeated host Manchester 54-45 Wednesday night and the program has its first three-game winning streak in nine years.
AU (8-6, 4-3 HCAC) trailed the Spartans (2-12, 0-7 HCAC) 22-21 at halftime and outscored Manchester 21-10 in the third quarter.
Lexi Dellinger led the Ravens with 15 points and also had six rebounds. Payton Moore scored 11 and Hannah Hawkins (Madison-Grant) got eight points and 12 rebounds.
2018 Shenandoah graduate Hillery Shepherd did not score for Manchester, but grabbed 7 rebounds.
Both AU teams travel to Hanover Saturday. The men’s game begins at 2 p.m. and the women’s contest follows.