HUNTINGTON – The Grace College men’s basketball team shocked third-seeded Huntington on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Crossroads League Tournament, upsetting the Foresters 56-54 in dramatic fashion.
The seventh-seeded Lancers (17-14) survive and advance to the CL Semifinals on Saturday 3 p.m. where they will host Spring Arbor, thanks to Spring Arbor’s 63-55 upset of No. 2 St. Francis on Wednesday.
Grace played suffocating defense throughout Wednesday’s game, holding Huntington to 19-of-49 shooting from the field and 4-of-20 from the 3-point line.
In the opening half of Grace’s game, Caleb Featherston (nine points) and Greg Miller (six points, six boards) made key contributions. The Lancers’ stingy defense forced Huntington into calling three timeouts before halftime.
Grace took a 27-22 lead at halftime after Drew Perrin’s basket in the waning seconds. The Foresters (24-7) were stifled into 31 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes.
Grace’s tenacious defense continued in the second half as Grace built its lead up to 46-36 with 5:05 remaining in the contest. But Huntington decided to make its rally at that juncture of the game. The Foresters scored on four straight possessions to cut the gap to 46-44 with three minutes to play, sending the home crowd into a frenzied state.
After a Grace timeout by head coach Jim Kessler, the Lancers got a much-needed basket from Jared Treadway on a midrange jumper to stop the Foresters’ run.
On Grace’s next possession, Greg Miller buried a 3-pointer in the corner to put the Lancers on top by five with a little over a minute left.
Huntington responded with four quick points to trail by one with 40 seconds on the clock. Huntington then sent Logan Irwin to the line for bonus free throws with 14 seconds remaining. After Irwin made 1-of-2, Treadway soared up for an offensive board and was fouled. He made both ends of the one-and-one, giving Grace a four-point cushion.
The Foresters raced down the court and made a 3-pointer with six seconds left, but Niko Read responded with two more free throws at the other end. Grace alertly fouled Huntington to prevent a game-winning shot, holding on for the two-point upset.
Logan Irwin tied for scoring honors on the night with 15 points and a game-best seven assists. Miller and Featherston finished with 11 points apiece, and Brandon Vanderhegghen had five points and three boards.
The Lancers, who had split a pair of regular-season meetings versus Huntington, shot 46 percent as a team and nearly made half of their attempts in the second half (11-of-23).
In other first-round games Wednesday night, Bethel defeated Marian 67-52 and top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan topped Taylor 79-68.
The semifinals Saturday will feature Spring Arbor (12-19) at Grace (17-13) and Bethel (24-7) at Indiana Wesleyan (26-5). Both games will tip-off at 3 p.m. The winners will then meet in the conference tourney championship game on Tuesday night.
Grace split with Spring Arbor during the regular season, winning 68-64 at Spring Arbor and dropping a 64-57 decision at home.