Grace had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but ultimately fell 95-91 in their upset bid on Friday.
The Lancers (5-1) got off to a rough start, falling behind 14-5 after just four minutes of action as the Bees came out firing. It didn’t take long for Grace to warm up its offense. The Lancers poured in 11 points in a two-minute span to tie the game at 16-16. Dennis Williams scored five points during Grace’s spurt, and Niko Read buried back-to-back 3-pointers.
Read’s hot shooting continued throughout the first half as he nailed four treys before halftime. St. Ambrose went into the halftime locker room ahead 50-47 after a fast-paced period.
The points continued to pour in during the second half, and Grace eventually battled in front by two points on a basket from Chad Hoffer with 13:12 remaining.
The teams continued to trade baskets as a 3-pointer from Logan Irwin knotted the game at 79-79 with 5:21 on the clock.
The Bees (5-1) seemed ready to pull away a few minutes later, stretching their lead to 90-83 on a 3-pointer with 2:39 on the clock. Grace had plenty of fight left, however. The Lancers trimmed the Bees’ lead to two points twice in the final minute – first on a rebound putback from Caleb Featherston and then on a layup by Irwin.
St. Ambrose made 1-of-2 from the foul line after Irwin’s layup, giving Grace a chance to tie the game behind by three with 16 seconds remaining. But Brandon Vanderhegghen missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, allowing St. Ambrose to hold on for the four-point win.
All nine Lancers who played scored a point. Read took scoring honors on the night with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, and Irwin added 18 points, 4 assists and 2 blocked shots.
Featherston scored 14 points with five rebounds, Hoffer tallied 11 points and seven boards off the bench, and Williams recorded eight points and seven rebounds.
As a team Grace committed a season-best nine turnovers, but the Bees took advantage by scoring 18 points off those nine mistakes. The Bees also outshot the Lancers from the floor 50 percent to 44 percent.
The Lancers will take another stab at an NAIA Top 25-ranked opponent on Saturday, playing No. 20 Ashford at 2 p.m.