Five players stepped up and scored in double digits to lead Mount Union (7-8, 5-3 Ohio Athletic Conference) past Heidelberg (7-8, 5-3) 79-73. Dave Pellerite, Ben Hodkinson and Matt Wier each scored 15 points to lead the Purple Raiders.
Pellerite led in rebounds as well with nine, while Wier pulled down eight boards. Jimmy Wood poured in 13 points and grabbed six rebounds and T.J. Gillespie added 11 points.
"I was really proud of the way our kids hung in there," said Mount Union coach Lee Hood. "When you can win in this league on the road, that's not easy to do. This is a quality team, a very-well coach team. You need to be a little better on the road, when you're out of your comfort zone."
The Raiders jumped out to an early lead, ahead by 10 points eight minutes into the game. The Student Princes came within two points at the 9:54 mark when Dane Givner and Derrick Flynn finished on back-to-back jumpers to cut the score to 19-17. But each time Heidelberg made gains, Mount Union took the cut and jumped out further.
Flynn started the game in place of Nate Davis who twisted his ankle during the week. Flynn led scoring for the HU at the half with six. While Davis only averages 8.1 point per game, he is the leading rebounder for the Student Princes at 6.9 rebounds per game.
"It [losing Davis] didn't change our game plan, but it might have effected us in one area, our rebounding," said Heidelberg coach Anthony Gholson. "Our rebounding wasn't as good as it normally is."
Kyle Tuley did his best to step in for Davis, leading with six rebounds and dumping in nine points. Givner led the scoring with 18 points, followed by Darion Capers with 16.
"Dane always gives a consistent effort," said Gholson. "I thought he played better defensively than he had in a long time, which was great. Overall, I think Dane had his best offensive basketball game whole-istically. Four steals, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks. He's the best guard in our league."
Mount Union grabbed its biggest lead of the game early in the second half with a 12-point margin, 38-26, with two free throws to open the period. Heidelberg didn't fold. Givner and Capers combined for nine points and Tuley added two more within a two-minute period to bring the Student Princes within one.
Free throws moved MTU ahead again before Clifton Powell dropped in a layup to tie the game at 45 at the 13:31 mark. While Heidelberg could come close and even tie the game, the Student Princes never found the lead.
Gholson referred to it as a three-headed monster, combining problems with turnover, free throws and rebounding all into one.
"The game was very choppy because every possession there was a problem with one of the three," Gholson said. "It was never the same three at the same time. It would be rebounding one time, and the next possession it would be turnover and the next possession it would be free-throw shooting. It was tough."
With less than four minutes to play, Mount Union appeared to have the game in check with a 12-point lead, 68-56. But Heidelberg wouldn't go away.
Givner, Capers and Fortkamp combined for an 11-point run to bring the score within two (71-69) with 1:11 left in the game.
Hodkinson dropped in a jumper, countered by two points from Givner. Free throws by Wier and Wood went unanswered, giving the Raiders the boost needed in the final minute.
"We didn't get timely free-throw shooting," said Gholson, referring to his team's 71 percent effort. "We turned the ball over, we didn't have that many (12), but they all happened at the wrong time. We just couldn't get over the hump."
Heidberg celebrated Alumni Day at halftime by honoring Cal Dilworth and Duane Warns with the inaugural Heidelberg Alumni Leaders and Legends (H.A.L.L.) Awards. The award honors members who have proven a commitment to his community as well as maintained a relationship and remains involved with the HU men's basketball program.
Dilworth is a 1957 graduate who lettered in both football and basketball at HU and was inducted into the 2005 athletic hall of fame. Warns was another two-sport athlete, earning success in both basketball and track and field. Upon graduation in 1961, Warns held Heidelberg records for most points in a game (45), points in a season (412), career points (1,092) and most field goals in a single game (21). He was the first Student Prince to surpass 1,000 career point and currently ranks 18th overall.
More than 20 former players returned to HU over the weekend to participate in the Alumni Day.