Sitting at 11-5 on the season, Anderson welcomed the Hanover College Panthers into an electric O.C. Lewis Gymnasium for a battle for first place in the HCAC. Hanover and Anderson both held 8-1 records in conference play entering Saturday’s game. The Ravens came in firing on all cylinders, winners of five straight HCAC contests.
“We have been playing really good basketball and have clicked on both ends,” explained junior guard and captain Cory Kreiger.
Sophomore guard Stanley Duncan helped spark the Ravens’ winning streak, scoring 40 points in a 102-101 victory over Franklin and 37 in a 99-87 victory over Manchester. He combined to shoot 36-38 from the free throw line in the two performances.
Duncan credited his scoring explosion to making hard cuts and attacking off of the dribble.
“My jumpshot wasn’t falling early in the season so I just wanted to get to the line and get into a rhythm. This has enabled me to shoot better from the perimeter.”
Duncan was named HCAC player of the week for games played from Jan. 9-15. Against Rose-Hulman and Franklin, he averaged 23.5 points per game and shot 50 percent from the field over those two games.
He was quick to deflect the credit from himself and give it back to his team. “It’s a great honor but it is an award that shows how great my teammates are and how great of a coaching staff we have,” Duncan said. “They do so much for me, whether it’s setting a screen or calling a set for me. They deserve the credit.”
Against Hanover, Duncan again led the Ravens with 15 points on 5-10 shooting, but the Ravens still fell to the Panthers 74-65. Anderson entered Saturday’s contests averaging 88 points per game, but were held to their season low total.
Duncan credited the Panthers’ defensive efforts, but also said part of the loss could be attributed to poor decision making by the Ravens. “Hanover is a great team and played great defense,” he said, “but I think the loss had more to do with us. We rushed some shots early in the first and second half, which put us in a hole. We were able to battle back, but we just came up short.”
The Ravens trailed by 15 at one point of the second half, but cut the deficit to three points with under two minutes to play. Trailing 64-61, the Ravens had a chance to tie, but missed their three and were forced to foul down the stretch, enabling Hanover to extend their lead and hold on to the victory.
At times, the Ravens fans, and especially students, appeared to be willing the Ravens back into the contest.
Kreiger explained that the fan support meant a great deal to the team. “It was disappointing to come up on the losing end, but we appreciate all of the students and fans that came out and supported us in the big game.”
Trevor Lucas also scored 15 points on 17 field goal attempts and secured nine rebounds. Cole Hartman scored 11 points in 11 tries. Freshman Malik Laffoon provided a big lift off of the bench, scoring seven points and hauling in six rebounds in only 12 minutes of play. Laffoon and Joe Line were the only Ravens to see action that were not held below their season scoring average.
Now 8-2 in conference play, the Ravens enter the second half of HCAC play tied for second in the conference standings with Mount St. Joseph. Both of Anderson’s losses in conference play have come against Hanover.
Anderson will look to get back on track tonight at home against Defiance, a team they defeated 101-96 back on Jan. 4. Hartman is excited for the Ravens’ opportunity to return to their winning ways. “The key for tonight is to just be us,” he explained. “As a team, we need to do all the little things we practice everyday and execute them well in the game. If we do this, we should be happy with the outcome.”
Tonight’s game will tip at 7:30 p.m. The Ravens will then travel to Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday to take on Transylvania, winners of 10 straight games, in a men’s and women’s doubleheader.