The Anderson University men's basketball team pulled away from Earlham College with an 85-80 victory during Saturday's Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) matchup in O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.
At halftime, Earlham (7-12, 3-9) held a 43-40 lead. Earlham managed to build its lead to 53-45 with 15 minutes, 5 seconds left in the game. The Ravens responded with a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 55-54 with 12:20 to go. Earlham took a 60-55 lead, but the Ravens scored the next six points to go ahead. Jason Slain made layup to give Earlham the lead back, but the Ravens put together an 8-1 run to take a 69-63 lead.
With 3:05 remaining, AJ White provided a layup for Earlham to cut the deficit to 69-67. Jalen Johnson then knocked down a 3-pointer to put Anderson up by five. Chainey Zolman then hit a 3-pointer for Earlham to make the score 72-70, but Maurice Knight drained a 3-pointer on the next possession. Anderson then scored the next four points and led by multiple possessions for the remainder of the contest.
"First of all, my hat is off to Earlham," Coach Owen Handy said. "They do not look on tape like a team with a 3-9 record in conference play, and they do not play like a team with a 3-9 record in conference play. They had skilled players and shot-makers, they put great pressure on offensively, and they do a great job of reading situations and making you pay for errors. They were well prepared and kept us on our heels for much of the game."
Anderson converted 34-of-39 (87.2 percent) shots from the free-throw line while Earlham made 14-of-25 (56 percent) attempts from the charity stripe.
The Quakers turned the ball over 15 times while the Ravens committed 12 turnovers. Anderson outscored Earlham 20-11 off turnovers.
Earlham drained 10-of-20 (50 percent) shots from 3-point range while Anderson hit 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) attempts from the perimeter.
The Quakers held an 8-2 advantage on fast-break points.
Malik Laffoon poured in 29 points. The 6-foot-2 senior guard from Bloomington knocked down 15-of-16 (93.8 percent) shots from the free-throw line.
Knight notched 26 points and nine rebounds. The 6-foot-4 junior wing from Frankton converted 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) attempts from the charity stripe.
"Maurice and Malik were really, really good for us [on Saturday]. When those two guys got in attack mode in the second half, everything else went more smoothly for us. They led us with their composure against Earlham's pressure in the second half and did a great job of knocking down their free throws."
Austin Lyons turned in 15 points. Jalen Johnson contributed eight points. Jake Gudorf, Michael Rogers and Tate Cooper each scored two points. J.D. Bembry rounded out the Anderson scoring effort with one point. Rogers also pulled down nine rebounds.
"Although Larry Johnson's statistical line the last couple of games has not been eye-popping, he has played two really good games for us in terms of his consistency, communication, and focused execution."
Zolman paced the Quakers with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Blake Bonin produced 13 points and five assists. White contributed 11 points and Kenneth Stalling Jr. came up with five steals.
The Ravens are currently tied for fourth in the HCAC standings and are two games out of first. Anderson hosts two HCAC contests next week in O.C. Lewis Gymnasium. The Ravens square off with Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (10-9, 7-5) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Anderson then takes on Bluffton University (10-9, 6-6) on Saturday at 4 p.m.