Saint Francis expected a challenge from 14-win Mount Vernon Nazarene Saturday at the Hutzell Athletic Center, and it did for awhile. However, the No. 3-ranked Cougars tore off on a 14-3 run late in the first half and eventually won 73-51 in Crossroads League men’s basketball action.
The victory was a program record 21st straight at home for Saint Francis (15-3, 5-1 CL) and keeps it in a 3-way tie for first place in the conference race with Bethel and Taylor.
With 9:32 remaining in the first half, Saint Francis got a basket from guard Chandler White to start a run that stretched to 30-19 and later 32-24 at the break.
Mount Vernon Nazarene (14-4, 3-3) battled back by trimming its deficit to 36-31 with 14:53 left in the game, but Saint Francis responded with runs of 12-5 and later 9-0 over the next few minutes and was never threatened again.
Junior forward Bryce Lienhoop paced the Cougars with 17 points and 13 rebounds, which was his third double-double of the year, while fifth-year senior center Kyle Sovine added 13 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double this season.
White chipped in 15 points, while forward Stephen Turner had six rebounds.
Defensively, Saint Francis held Mount Vernon Nazarene to 29 percent shooting and crushed one of the better rebounding teams in the league 47-36 on the glass.
Saint Francis will travel to Huntington Tuesday at 7 p.m.