MT. VERNON, Ohio — Senior Austin Compton came off the University of Saint Francis bench to lead USF scoring in an NAIA Top 25 upset at fourth-ranked Mt. Vernon Nazarene University on Tuesday night in Crossroads League action.
Compton scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and three steals helping USF to an 81-72 win while Antwaan Cushingberry added 15 points in USF’s fourth CL win in its last five games.
“Austin is playing at such a high level and his energy off the bench is contagious,” USF Head Coach Chad LaCross observed. “Our energy on the defensive end was tremendous and was the key to getting this road win.”
USF shot .444 on 32-for-72 shooting, but made up for it collecting 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounding MVNU by eight, 39-31, to hand the Cougars just their third loss of the season, the first in nine games at Ariel Arena.
“We didn’t shoot it great tonight but we were able to turn them over and I thought our pressure was outstanding,” LaCross asserted. “I was really proud of the way we competed on both ends of the floor.”
Winning at MVNU helped ease some of the sting of losing at home to Grace College on Saturday, 77-76, in overtime. It was USF’s first road win over an NAIA Top 5 team since an 87-74 win at No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan University on Feb. 20, 2018. It was also USF’s second win over a Top 25 opponent in three Top 25 games this season.
In a game that was never tied and the lead changed twice, Jalan Mull gave USF the lead for good drilling a 3-pointer for a 7-5 lead with 16:11 to play in the first half. MVNU’s Jacob Paul’s two free throws at 12:10 drew the home team within a point, 13-12, but the home Cougars never got any closer the rest of the game.
Cushingberry buried a 3-pointer at 11:49 to open up a four-point lead at 16-11 while starting a 10-0 USF run out to a 23-12 lead after a Compton bucket at 8:42. Tyler Smith‘s score at 2:17 lengthened the USF lead to the largest of the game at 14, 40-20, and USF still led by 14 after 20 minutes, 44-30.
USF took its largest lead of the game on a Connor Lautzenheiser 3-pointer from the top of the key, 76-59, with 5:27 to play. MVNU did outscore USF 13-5 in the time left, but got no closer than seven, 76-69 with 43 seconds to play, and 79-72 with 12 seconds to play. Cushingberry made 5-of-6 free throws in the last minute to keep MVNU at arm’s length and win for the 17th time in the last 19 meetings.
USF is in a three-way tie for fourth place heading into a game Saturday at the Hut against No. 15 Spring Arbor University.