FORT WAYNE – Grace and No. 2 St. Francis combined for 192 points on Wednesday night with the Cougars holding on for a 101-91 win in a Crossroads League men’s basketball matchup.
The Lancers (8-9, 0-5 Crossroads League) struggled to slow down USF’s attack. The Cougars (14-3, 4-1 CL) shot 61 percent for the game and made 25 free throws to stave off a late upset bid from Grace.
USF’s offense was sizzling to start the game. The Cougars blitzed Grace’s defense by shooting 72 percent from the floor in the first half, hitting 18-of-25 overall.
Despite the Cougars’ sharp shooting, Grace still led for much of the first half. The Lancers opened up an 11-6 advantage early on after Erik Bowen scored six quick points.
The Lancers still were ahead 34-31 after a 3-pointer from Chad Hoffer. But the Cougars made their first push of the game to grab the lead for good; USF ripped off eight unanswered points in less than a minute to pull ahead.
To end the half, Grace managed only two points over the final 4:18. The Cougars took advantage to increase their cushion to 50-41 at halftime.
Grace did hit six 3-pointers in the first half, including two apiece from Jaret Sons and Hoffer, to help its cause.
In the second half, Grace found its offense lifted from beyond the arc. Sons buried three 3s in just over three minutes of action to help erase an 18-point edge from the Cougars. The last triple from Sons, his fifth of the game, made the score 81-71 with 6:34 remaining.
Grace continued to whittle away at USF’s lead, attacking the basket and making the Cougars sweat. Stephen Halstead was fouled on a 3-pointer and hit all three free throws to nudge the Lancers within six points of USF with 1:53 on the clock.
But the Cougars secured the win by scoring on their final six possessions; USF made 7-of-7 from the foul line to ice the victory in the last two minutes.
For the game, the Cougars shot 36-of-59 (61 percent) and made 25-of-30 (83 percent) from the foul line. Grace shot 49 percent from the floor and sank 11 triples to help nullify USF’s strong shooting.
USF had two more turnovers than Grace (13 to 11) but also grabbed six more rebounds (35 to 29).
Bowen was hard to stop on offense for Grace, connecting on 10-of-14 from the floor for 22 points and six rebounds. Sons drilled 5-of-10 from beyond the arc for 17 points, his fourth straight game in double figures.
Hoffer scored 12 points, and Halstead added 11 points and a game-high five assists. Braxton Linville put up 10 points and three assists, and Charlie Warner chipped in eight points off the bench.
The Lancers return to the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center on Saturday against Goshen at 3 p.m. Saturday is a doubleheader with the women’s team and is also DePuy-Synthes Day, allowing free admission to all employees of DePuy-Synthes along with their immediate families.