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Three-pointer barrage lifts Milligan over Johnson

Tanner Cook • Jan 30, 2020 at 10:06 PM

A career high from Nathan Hastings propelled the Milligan men’s basketball team to a 94-83 non-conference win over Johnson University on Thursday night inside Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.

Hastings bettered his previous high by one point, netting 22 for the Buffaloes and going 8 for 10 from the field. He canned all four of his 3-point attempts.

“This one feels pretty good and I love to shoot the ball,” Hastings said. “The shooting really all stems from defense. If we work hard on defense and we run our stuff on offense, we’re going to get good looks. That’s kind of how we roll.”

Milligan also had Bo Pless, Desean Green and Matt Cole each score 16 points. Nailing a season-high 16 3-pointers, the Buffs shot 58.2% from the field and 61.5% from the perimeter.

“This was a pretty balanced offensive night and that’s what we want to see,” Milligan head coach Bill Robinson said. “We got the shots we wanted and I’m really proud of the effort.”

Former Hampton standout Coby Jones posted a game-high 34 points for Johnson.

“(Jones) is fantastic. He can score the ball at all three levels,” Robinson said. “He’s hard to handle. He had 34 tonight and I thought we did a good job on him. That’s how explosive he is.”

Former Sullivan East star Gavin Grubb also had a good night for the Royals, finishing with 20.

Estiven Estacio contributed a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

SEIZING CONTROL

The Buffs scored on their opening possession as Pless hit a shot and they were able to build a lead up to 12 points with over 16 minutes left in the contest.

But to Johnson’s credit, it was able to cut the lead down to two points with 11:15 remaining (60-58) and at 7:40 (67-65).

After the Royals cut the lead down the second time, Cole took control for the Buffs. He had a personal 7-2 run highlighted by a running, one-handed tomahawk dunk along the baseline and a banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key.

That gave Milligan an 82-71 lead and Johnson never got closer.

“Matt hasn’t been healthy. He hurt his shooting wrist in the second week of practice and he hadn’t been the same,” Robinson said. “Now that he’s healthy, he gives us a different dimension off the bench.”

Cole scored 13 of his 16 in the second half.

LIGHTS-OUT FIRST HALF

The Buffs started out making three of their first four shots and they kept the pressure on until the end of the half. Milligan shot 60.7% (17 for 28) from the field in the opening 20 minutes and made eight 3-pointers.

However, Milligan held a slim 43-37 lead at the break.

Hastings had 15 points by halftime, going 6 of 6 from the field and making all three of his shots from the perimeter.

ROYALS KEEPING PACE

Behind 15 points from Jones, Johnson kept pretty much even with Milligan. Orion Mashburn also threw in 10 by half.

The Royals were shooting 43.3% from the field and had made four 3-pointers of their own.

UP NEXT

Milligan will host Appalachian Athletic Conference foe Point on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. 

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