The stat sheet says senior guard Rob Hogans missed six shots for Spring Arbor on Wednesday night, and that he missed four 3-pointers, and that, at some point, the hoop gods actually looked the other way when he wrapped his hands around the basketball.
If they did, the look away was a fleeting glance at best, and no one could bear better witness to that than the Saint Francis Cougars. They had a front-and-center seat as Hogans scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and No. 7 seed Spring Arbor shot 60 percent to send the No. 2 seed Cougars reeling out of the Crossroads League tournament, 63-55.
Not the outcome anyone on the home end of the Hutzell Athletic Center saw coming.
“No, not at all,” Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross said. “I thought we’d battled, we’d won four games in a row to put ourselves in great position. I thought we’d play real loose tonight, and it was completely opposite.
“We acted like we wanted no part of the game.”
And it started early. From the time Hogans converted a bucket-and-free-throw to open the scoring to the final horn, Spring Arbor (12-19) never trailed and were even with the Cougars (21-10) only once after Scott Kohne’s short bank shot tied it at 31 on the first possession of the second half. Hogans, who averages 25 a game, took over after that, scoring the visitors’ first eight points of the second half and giving Spring Arbor a 10-point lead with 5:04 left.
Spring Arbor never made another field goal after that, but the Cougars went almost three minutes without scoring in the same span to bow out in the first round.
And if that was a stunning development, it wasn’t completely so, given that Spring Arbor had given Saint Francis fits in two regular-season games, losing by four at Spring Arbor and by eight at Saint Francis.
“We’re growing as a team,” Spring Arbor coach Ryan Cottingham said. “The last half of the season, our record wasn’t showing it, but we were making slow, steady progress. We felt confident coming down that if we stayed disciplined and moved the ball, that we could get good looks. And we knocked down some shots.”
And, this third time, left Saint Francis in their wake.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times, especially when you let them shoot 60 percent for the game,” said LaCross, whose team was led in scoring by Austin Fox with 13 points, all in the first half, and Kyle Sovine with 10. “We made it pretty easy for them. We didn’t defend, we let them do whatever they wanted on the offensive end, and it was really frustrating.”
Not to say mystifying.
“I don’t know what happened, really,” freshman guard Kegan Comer said. “We just weren’t playing our game. No one was ready or focused or anything. It was definitely a bad night for everyone.”