SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – The Spring Arbor University men's basketball team secured the No. 5 seed in the Crossroads League Tournament after finishing the regular season with 17 wins – the most wins by the program since the 2012-2013 season. The Cougars will travel down to Upland, Indiana for a quarterfinal matchup with the No. 4 seeded Trojans of Taylor University on Wednesday night.
SPRING ARBOR UNIVERSITY COUGARS (17-13, 9-9 CL)
Last Game: Lost 71-73 vs. #9 Indiana Wesleyan on Feb. 18
Coach: Ryan Cottingham | 18th Season
Scoring Leader: Caleb Hogans, 14.1 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Thomas Starks, 7.9 rpg
Assist Leader: Paul Marandet, 4.5 apg
(RV) TAYLOR UNIVERSITY TROJANS (20-10, 11-7 CL)
Last Game: Won 81-74 vs. Grace College on Feb. 18
Coach: Josh Andrews | 4th Season
Scoring Leader: Mason Degenkolb, 17.7 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Evan Crowe, 6.0 rpg
Assist Leader: Tim Fleming, 3.7 apg
SCOUTING SPRING ARBOR
Spring Arbor put together a 17-win season, including nine in the Crossroads League, after winning eight games last year. The Cougars picked up a pair of wins against top 10 opponents, and lost seven games by just three points or less.
The Cougars enter the contest as the top rated defense in the Crossroads League, letting up less than 71 points a game to opponents. On the offensive side of the ball the Cougars have used a balanced attack all season. Senior guard Caleb Hogans leads the team in scoring at 14.1 a contest. Following close behind is junior Zach Medendorp, pouring in 13.9 and hauling in 5.1 rebounds per game. He also ranks 12th in the nation with 55 blocks on the season.
Freshman Paul Marandet comes in averaging 12.6 points and a team-high 4.5 assists a game. Thomas Starks, who leads the team in minutes as a senior, contributes 9.8 points a game and leads the team with 7.9 rebounds a contest. Drew Zuidema, a junior guard, ranks sixth in the nation in 3 point percentage, hitting on 48.7 percent of his attempts.
As a team, Spring Arbor ranks 13th nationally, shooting 39 percent from three-point range.
The Trojans have excelled this season under coach Josh Andrews, who is in his fourth year with the program. After winning 14 games last season, the Trojans earned 20 victories this year, and climbed as high as No. 7 in the National Poll.
Freshman guard Mason Degenkolb has been a huge part of the Trojans success, leading the team in scoring at 17.7 points and 4 rebounds a contest. Three other Trojans average in double figures, including junior forward Keaton Hendricks. The Trojans knocked off two ranked teams in the regular season, winning at No. 3 Davenport and knocking off Crossroads League champions Bethel, who was ranked No. 16 at the time.
Taylor ranks second in the Crossroads League in scoring defense, holding opponents to under 74 points a game.
Taylor has had the upper hand in the series lately, winning each of the last four meetings and six of the last seven. Of those seven matchups, no game has been decided by more than four points.
Both meetings this season were decided in the closing moments. Back in November, Spring Arbor had three chances at the rim in the final seconds to tie the game but could not get any of them to fall. Degenkolb hit a game-winning shot with just four seconds remaining on Jan. 24 to give the Trojans a two point victory and the regular-season sweep.
CROSSROADS LEAGUE TOURNAMENT BRACKET
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, February 22
No. 8 Grace (14-16, 6-12 CL) at No. 1 Bethel (26-4, 16-2 CL)
No. 7 Huntington (16-14, 7-11 CL) at No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan (24-6, 14-4 CL)
No. 6 Mount Vernon Nazarene (19-11, 8-10 CL) at No. 3 Saint Francis (21-9, 11-7 CL)
No. 5 Spring Arbor (17-13, 9-9 CL) at No. 4 Taylor (20-10, 11-7 CL)
Semifinals – Saturday, Feb. 25
Finals – Tuesday, Feb. 28