Taylor Takes Out No. 24 Saint Francis
UPLAND, Ind. – Double-doubles from CJ Penha and Jason Hubbard highlighted a determined effort from Taylor on Monday, as the Trojans scored a 71-67 win over No. 24 Saint Francis behind a combined 41 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks from the standout duo.
TU played well after an early defensive adjustment, holding USF (16-6, 3-6 CL) to 39.0-percent shooting from the floor after the visiting Cougars netted layups on their first three possessions of the night. The Trojans held Saint Francis to just eight field goals over the final 18:17 of the opening half and countered the early 6-0 run from the guests with a 12-2 spurt to take a 12-8 edge.
Another extended rally opened a nine-point lead for Taylor, as a 16-4 burst pushed the Trojans to a 28-19 lead midway through the opening stanza. The TU reserves provided much of the damage throughout the run, accounting for 12 of the 16 points, highlighted by five from Kaden Fuhrmann.
The teams continued to trade punches for the rest of the half, with Taylor taking a 39-33 lead to the break thanks to a 15-0 scoring edge off the bench.
The Taylor cushion reached double digits on a triple from Zach Baugher at the 16:37 mark of the second, but USF countered immediately with a 12-2 stretch to draw even and later took the lead with 10:02 remaining.
The back-and-forth affair remained gridlocked at 67-67 with 2:35 to play, when Penha powered his way to a go-ahead bucket underneath and then swatted a shot and drew a charge on the other end to put the Trojans in position to finish off the victory.
After the Taylor defense forced one final USF turnover with 12 seconds on the clock, the Trojans broke the Cougar press and Vincent Miranda sealed the win with two free throws in the final second.
TU’s defense disrupted the dangerous Saint Francis perimeter attack, as the Cougars made only three triples in 19 tries after entering the game averaging 10.9 treys per contest. Taylor also picked up eight steals and pulled down eight more rebounds in the contest.
Penha and Hubbard did the heavy lifting, with James McCloud adding a season-high eight rebounds to go with six points and one steal.
Penha closed with 20 points, 10 boards and a career-high three blocks for his fifth double-double of the season. The junior also pulled to within striking distance of following Hubbard into the 1,000-point club, finishing the evening just 23 points shy of the milestone.
Hubbard remained red-hot, adding 21 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and one steal for his sixth double-double of the year and eighth 20-point outing in TU’s last nine games.
The Trojans (10-8, 4-6 CL) will aim for a third-straight win when they host Goshen (3-17, 1-10 CL) on Wednesday in an 8:00 pm start inside Odle Arena.