WINONA LAKE – The regular season ended on a sour note for the Grace College men’s basketball team in an 89-78 defeat to Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday.
The conference loss drops Grace into the No. 5 seed in the Crossroads League and the Lancers will travel to Goshen on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the CL Tournament.
The Lancers led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but MVNU exploded for 53 points after halftime to run away for the win at the MOCC. The Cougars (14-16, 6-12 CL) had six players in double-digit scoring in a balanced effort.
The game could not have started better for the Lancers (19-11, 9-9 CL). Brandon Vanderhegghen drilled a trio of 3-pointers in the first 2:53 of the contest, helping Grace to a 13-3 lead.
Vanderhegghen was the key figure in the opening half. The senior ripped off 20 points before halftime and hit five 3’s.
Grace went into halftime with a 44-36 lead, despite MVNU scoring the last four points of the half.
Both teams shot over 52 percent from the floor in the first half, but only the Cougars could maintain that shooting clip.
After four minutes of the second half, Grace had earned a 13-point lead at 56-43. But the Lancers hit a fatal cold stretch on offense that gave MVNU the chance it needed.
Grace was outscored 18-4 over a four-minute span, and the Cougars took their first lead of the contest at 61-60.
While the Lancers managed to climb back on top shortly after, Grace was unable to slow down the Cougars’ offense down the stretch. MVNU scored 24 points over the last 8:18, and Grace could not keep pace.
An 11-2 run by the Cougars gave the visitors the lead for good, and MVNU secured the win from the free throw line. Grace was held to six points over the final four minutes. Overall, the Cougars outscored Grace by 19 (53 to 34) in the second half.
Vanderhegghen led all scorers with 26 points, adding five rebounds and four assists. Erik Bowen was the only other Lancer to reach double figures, producing a career-high 25 points on 12-of-19 shooting and hauling in nine rebounds.
Logan Irwin also had a career high with 12 assists, adding seven points and four boards. Stephen Halstead hit two 3-pointers off the bench, and Kyle Fillman chipped in four points and three rebounds.
Grace allowed the Cougars to shoot 53 percent from the floor. MVNU also sank 83 percent from the foul line (20-of-24) compared to 47 percent for Grace.