ANDERSON — When a basketball team plays great defense and shoots over 60 percent on offense, the coach can have a lot of fun.
Anderson University men's coach Owen Handy had a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon on the sideline.
Senior Mike Peters led four Ravens in double figures with 18 points, and the AU defense was in top form in a convincing 78-55 win over Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Mount St. Joseph on Saturday.
With the win, Anderson improved to 7-10 overall and 6-4 in the HCAC while the Lions dropped to 6-11 and 4-6.
The Ravens never trailed after starting the first half strong with a 6-2 run and eventually taking an eight-point lead into the locker room. While AU shot 60 percent in the half, it was a suffocating defense that made the biggest difference. Twice in the first half they forced a shot clock violation and on multiple other occasions forced an extended possession that resulted in a low-percentage forced shot from the Lions.
"When we are attentive to and execute our defensive scouting reports, we're pretty good," Handy said. "And we did that today."
The Ravens were even more attentive on defense after intermission.
Junior Malik Laffoon, who finished with 14 points, opened the second half with a layup. That basket started a decisive 17-5 run, capped on a basket by sophomore Maurice Knight, that ballooned the lead to 20 at 53-33.
"We came out and had our first two plays scripted, but I don't think we got to the second one for three or four possessions because our defense created some opportunities for us," Handy said. "We defended well enough, and it's frustrating to play when you aren't getting good shots. I thought we were doing a good job of pestering them into some bad shots."
Knight, a former star at Frankton, added 16 points and led the Ravens with six rebounds. He also had a block and a steal and was key to the Ravens' defense, which forced a total of 14 turnovers and held the Lions to just 45.5 percent shooting for the game.
"I thought Mo did a great individual job of defending," Handy said. "They are such a disciplined offensive team. They won't take a bad shot early. You've got to be ready to guard for 30 seconds. You have to accept that and try to beat them at their own game, and I thought today we did that."
For the game, led by Peters (7-of-9), Laffoon (6-of-8), Knight (8-pf-13) and senior Cole Hartman (4-of-7), the Ravens shot 61.2 percent from the floor and made 12-of-13 at the free-throw line while only turning the ball over nine times. Hartman finished with 13 points and a team-high three assists.
Laffoon also had two blocks and three steals, one of which led to a fast break dunk in the second half that gave the Ravens a 60-39 lead.
The Ravens will host Franklin on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.