Cougar Basketball Game Recap
Cougars Down Taylor 60-56 for Third
Straight Home Win
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (1-24-2012) - The Mount
Vernon Nazarene University men's basketball
team hit its final nine free throw attempts
and showed great composure down the stretch
as the Cougars held off Taylor (Ind.)
University for an important 60-56
Mid-Central College Conference victory on
Tuesday night in the Physical Education
MVNU (9-14, 3-8 MCC) never
trailed in the first half as senior forward
Danil Zakhlebnyy opened the game with a
3-pointer nine seconds into the contest. The
Cougars' early lead grew to 13-6 after a
trey by junior guard Ben Severns at the
visiting Trojans of Taylor (15-8, 4-7 MCC)
pulled within 15-13 on a jumper by Ben
Raichel at the 7:44 mark. However, a jumper
by sophomore post Caleb Williams and a pair
of baskets by senior guard Robbie Taylor
MVNU's lead up to 21-13 with 4:59 left in
At that point, the Trojans
caught fire from beyond the arc as Casey
Coons drilled a trio of 3-pointers and
Raichel added a pair of treys as Taylor was
able to knot the score at 28-28 as the two
teams headed to their locker rooms at the
Taylor led MVNU with nine
points and four assists in the first half,
while Zakhlebnyy added five points. The
Cougars shot 48 percent from the field
(12-for-25), 50 percent from 3-point range
(3-for-6), and 50 percent at the free throw
line (1-for-2). MVNU also held a 15-12
advantage in rebounds.
in 12 first-half points for Taylor as he
went 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Raichel
added 11 points off the bench and was
3-for-3 from beyond the arc. The Trojans
shot a blistering 63.6 percent from 3-point
range in the first half (7-for-11), but
managed to go just 2-for-12 inside the arc
(16.7 percent). They also went 3-for-4 at
the free throw line (75 percent).
second half went back and forth from the
start with Taylor taking its first lead of
the game 37-36 at the 13:44 mark on Coons'
fifth 3-pointer of the contest. The Trojans'
cushion grew to as much as 46-40 with 8:05
to play after two more treys by Coons.
However, the Cougars did not give in as
Taylor went 3-for-4 at the free throw line
and sophomore wing Austin Semple made a
layup to pull MVNU within 46-45 with 7:20
still on the clock.
after a three-point play by Josh Riikonen,
the Cougars used a 7-5 run to regain the
lead 52-51 as Taylor hit the second of two
free throw attempts with 2:04 to play.
That would be the start of nine straight
free throw attempts made by MVNU to close
out the game as the Cougars did not attempt
a shot from the field after a layup by
Zakhlebnyy tied the score at 51-51 with 3:09
Riikonen gave the Trojans
what would prove to be their final lead of
the game 55-54 with 50.6 seconds to go.
Then, Semple put MVNU back on top 56-55 with
a pair of free throws with 33.7 seconds
With Taylor playing possibly
for the last shot with the shot clock turned
off, Tommy Peller was called for an
offensive foul with 11.7 seconds remaining
to give the ball back to the Cougars. After
a long inbounds pass, Semple was fouled
again and hit two more free throws with 9.8
seconds to go to put MVNU in front 58-55.
As the hot-shooting Coons looked to tie
the score with a 3-pointer, the Cougars
chose to foul him with 3.5 seconds left
instead of giving him a shot attempt from
behind the arc. Coons, a 90.6 percent free
throw shooter, hit the first shot and then
purposely attempted to miss the second shot
by trying to throw the ball hard off the
rim. Unfortunately for Taylor, he stepped
over the free throw line on the attempt to
turn the ball back over to MVNU.
no time running off the clock, Taylor was
fouled and calmly hit two free throws to
push the Cougars' lead to 60-56, and Coons'
final 3-point attempt as he tried to jump
into an MVNU defender came up short to
clinch the victory for the Cougars - their
third straight at home.
MVNU with 15 points, nine assists, and five
rebounds, while Semple added 14 points.
Williams finished with 12 points and four
rebounds, and Zakhlebnyy tossed in 11
points. The Cougars shot 48.8 percent from
the field (21-for-43), 30 percent from
3-point range (3-for-10), and 75 percent
from the free throw line (15-for-20). They
also won the turnover battle (11 to Taylor's
13) and the rebounding war (28-24).
Coons, who dropped 35 points and seven
3-pointers on MVNU in the earlier meeting
between the two teams this year, finished
with 24 points and went 7-for-16 from
3-point range. Raichel and Riikonen added 11
and 10 points respectively off the bench,
and Jake Burkholder grabbed a game-high nine
rebounds. The Trojans shot 40.8 percent from
the field (20-for-49), 43.5 percent from
3-point range (10-for-23), and 85.7 percent
from the free throw line (6-for-7).
"We showed a great deal of grit tonight, and
it is no surprise because tonight's victory
followed our best practice of the season,"
said MVNU coach Matt Moore. "Robbie's
leadership has been steady through some of
these difficult times and our guys
complemented him well tonight. Austin did a
very good job in allowing the game to come
to him, and both Caleb and Danil played very
well within our system. The big kicker for
us tonight was the stability our bench gave
us at stretches in both halves. When we play
hard, smart, and together regardless of who
is on the floor, we are a fun team to
The Cougars will be back in
action on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Indiana
Wesleyan University in another MCC contest.