Cardinal rallied from a 16-point first half deficit to win at Independence on Tuesday, 63-60. The Huskies outscored the Blue Devils 22-13 in the final quarter with 12 of those points coming from the free throw line.
The Huskies, who improved to 4-5 overall, entered the game shooting just 35-percent from the free throw line. They finished the game 20-of-38 (53-percent) but were 12-of-17 down the stretch.
“We’ve struggled all year from the line,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “We’re averaging about 35-percent from the free throw line from the year. It’s horrible. We’re averaging between 25 and 30 free throws a game and we’re shooting 35-percent. There are so many points we leave on the line every game.”
Independence, which dropped to 3-7, jumped out to a 17-10 first quarter lead and led by as many as 16 in the second quarter.
The Huskies cut Independence’s lead to 32-27 at halftime.
“The first quarter, we didn’t play good at all,” Cummins said. “It was a bad quarter. We had a lot of turnovers. In the second quarter we were down by 16 at one point. Of course, I called a couple time outs and kind of regrouped and we got back on a little bit. We did some recovering there as far as making some shots and playing better defense.”
That strategy worked as the two combined for eight blocks and 23 rebounds. Naftzger finished with just two points but he pulled down 12 rebounds and Francis finished with a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards.
“They were my big guys and they did an excellent job of controlling the boards and in the interior not letting them get too many easy baskets,” Cummins said. “They did a nice job.”
Cardinal continued to cut into Independence’s lead after Jerry Tamburro, who finished with 12 points, hit a 3-pointer and Luke Timas drained a pair of free throws to give the Huskies a one-point lead with about two minutes to play.
“That was huge,” Cummins said. “Jerry Tamburro hit a three to cut it to one and we ran a play and Luke went to the basket and got fouled,” Cummins said. “He made the two free throws and Craig Kaser was huge. He was 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.”
Kaser finished with a game-high 20 points and eight assists.
“He did a great job,” Cummins said. “I think that’s the most assists he’s had all year. He was just controlling the floor and putting guys in the right position and doing some nice things. He’s been great.”