But the Ravens took a big step toward the actual postseason Saturday afternoon with a 79-65 victory against Franklin in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play.
“It’s good to get the win for our seniors,” AU coach Tom Slyder said. “Now we’ve got to just keep building our confidence and keep building momentum.” [Photo on left: Anderson’s Phil Hogan looks to drive during a game earlier this season.]
The Ravens (13-10, 9-7 HCAC) hit bottom with a fifth straight loss — 58-55 — against league-leader Transylvania on Jan. 21.
Their win against the Grizzlies (10-13, 7-9) on Senior Day was their fifth in six games since.
It lifted Anderson into a three-way tie with Bluffton and Rose-Hulman for third place in the muddled HCAC Tournament race. Defiance, Franklin and Manchester each are two games behind that pack with two games left in the regular season.
The top six teams in the conference standings qualify for the postseason tournament, and AU can clinch a spot with a win at Manchester on Wednesday.
“We still have a chance to not make the tournament,” Slyder said. “We’re not taking anything for granted.”
The Ravens’ postseason chances got a huge lift Saturday thanks to junior guard Phil Hogan and a run of late first-half 3-pointers.
Franklin held its last lead at 15-13 with about eight minutes left before halftime.
Then AU senior Andrew Boman ignited a 20-6 run with a traditional three-point play.
Bowman, who was one of three Ravens in double figures with 15 points, added a lay-up to push the lead to three, and fellow senior Brock Morrison answered a Grizzlies basket with a 3-pointer to make it 21-17.
After the teams traded field goals, Hogan sank a 3-pointer to put the Ravens ahead by seven. Franklin’s Will Conoley answered with a basket but missed a free throw that could have cut the deficit further.
Morrison made the Grizzlies pay with another 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and Hogan scored the final four points of the half to give AU a commanding 33-21 lead.
Hogan finished with a game-high 26 points, and Morrison added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“We’re getting more and more people involved,” Slyder said. “We’ve gotten more balance, and that gives us more confidence.”
The Grizzlies continued to trail by double digits until the final two minutes and never got closer than eight.
Bailey Howard led Franklin with 12 points, and Gunner Erwin and Zach Merschbrock added 11 each.
The Ravens finished with an 8-4 record at O.C. Lewis Gymnasium and will play their final two games on the road.
But Slyder said there was no more significance on this final home game than any other.
“They’re all important,” he said. “It’s really a do-or-die mentality at the moment.”
—George Bremer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.