WINONA LAKE – The Grace College men’s basketball’s regular-season home finale ended in a 75-65 defeat to Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Tuesday night.
The Lancers struggled to wrestle the lead from the Cougars in the second half, and Mt. Vernon’s strong shooting (57 percent) kept Grace at bay for the victory.
The Cougars hit better than 50 percent of their field goals in each half. Conversely, the Lancers (16-12; 8-9 Crossroads League) struggled to 43 percent from the floor, including 9-of-18 from the free throw line.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene made an early push in the first half, scoring nine straight points to take a 15-10 lead.
Grace’s offense was marred by seven turnovers in the first half, but the Lancers found their stride from long range. Niko Read ripped off a trio of 3-pointers to spark Grace’s team, and Morgan Michalski hit a pair of treys as well. Four of the Lancers’ final five made shots came from beyond the arc as the final triple from Greg Miller lifted the team to a two-point advantage.
The Cougars (7-21; 4-13 CL) spurted ahead in the final two minutes of the half, however, ending the period on a 7-0 run to lead 36-31 at halftime.
Mt. Vernon maintained their lead for the duration of the second half, although their margin stayed within single digits until the final 39 seconds. Grace came within one point at 55-54 with 8:22 remaining after Miller buried a 3-pointer, but the Cougars countered with four quick points to extend their advantage.
Grace stayed within striking distance throughout the final minutes. But four free throws in the last 1:02 allowed Mt. Vernon to ease away for the 10-point final margin of victory.
Logan Irwin led Grace offensively with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds, and Read finished with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Miller tallied nine points and five boards, and Caleb Featherston chipped in seven points.
Tuesday night’s game was also Senior Night, honoring the contributions of Jacob Goodman, Morgan Michalski, Greg Miller, Jared Treadway and manager Chris Merrick.
Grace will be the No. 6 seed in next week’s Crossroads League Tournament. The Lancers will play on the road against the third-seeded league team on Feb. 26.
The Lancers will conclude the regular season on Saturday when they take part in a men’s/women’s doubleheader at Bethel College. The women’s game will tip off at 1 p.m. with the men’s game to follow at 3 p.m.