Cougar center Scott Kohne registered his 12th double-double this season — 21 points, 19 rebounds — and Josh Hogan scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Cougars.
Kohne was so effective that he had registered that double-double by halftime (12 points and 13 rebounds). His 19 boards tied Steve Smith and Mike Campbell for fourth on the Cougar single-game rebound list.
The Cougars led 29-25 at halftime and outscored the Foresters 32-25 in the second half.
During that critical early stage of the final period, Saint Francis outscored Huntington 15-4 in the first 6:10 of the second half to open up a 44-29 advantage after an Ethan Hussey basket. The Foresters got no closer than 55-48 with 2:47 to play in the final 20 minutes.
"Those consecutive stops were the key," Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross said in a release. "We had 11 in the first half. Then when you score off the resulting possession, it puts greater pressure on the other team. That's what we did."
The Foresters trimmed the Cougar lead to 29-27, but Kohne scored putting his team up 31-27 at 18:05 starting an 11-0 USF run that opened a 40-27 lead.
Hogan knocked in two 3-pointers in the run, the second at 15:44 to open a 13-point spread. Ethan Hussey scored at 15:44 expanding that Cougar advantage to 15, 44-29.
“Our perimeter shooters were knocking down some 3s, so that gave me and Brad (Sneary) room to work inside and opened up cutting lanes,” Kohne said. “They couldn't sag as much as they wanted to with the outside option working for us.
I think our guys know what we want now and can see how much better we can be if we work for good 3s, inside out. We did today and knocked some down deep in the clock."
Kohne and Sneary weren't the only frontcourt players to contribute in the win, according to LaCross.
"We got some good minutes from Kyle (Sovine) today as well,” LaCross emphasized.
Saint Francis led one more time by 15 (49-34) with 10:13 to play on Kohne bucket. Huntington gradually whittled away at its deficit, drawing to within 55-48 with 2:47 to play. But Hogan scored on a 9-foot pull-up jumper for a 57-48 lead at 1:15 after a Sneary steal.
Small and Kohne hit four consecutive free throws helping to keepthe Foresters at bay in the time remaining.
“I didn't even know I had 19 rebounds, so it was a good day to contribute that way and get the win,” Kohne said.
The Cougars grabbed the lead for good on Small's pull-up jumper in the lane, 9-8 with 15:54 to play in the first half and never trailed again. Small's basket started an 11-0 run that produced an 18-8 Cougar lead. Huntington got as close as 27-25, before Kohne scored with 1:40 to play in the first half. Neither team scored in the time remaining.
Former DeKalb High School standout Ryan Boester led Huntington with 19 points. T.J. Short scored 13 and former Carroll High School star Shane Merryman, who came into the game as the leading scorer in the conference with a 21.5 scoring average, finished with 11 points.
The Cougars will host Spring Arbor Tuesday at 7 p.m.