MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – A career-high 34 points from Tre Olive lifted Grace’s men’s basketball team to a much-needed 89-83 win at Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday.
The Lancers (10-13, 2-9 Crossroads League) snapped a four-game losing streak and remain in the hunt for a spot in the league tournament.
Braxton Linville also produced a career night with 21 points, shattering his previous high of 11. Linville was 8-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the foul line.
For the game, Grace shot over 53 percent in both halves and held a dominant plus-12 advantage in rebounding.
Wednesday’s game was close from tipoff to buzzer. The lead changed hands 11 times although it was never greater than seven points either way.
Olive was a consistent offensive presence for Grace in the first half. He buried two 3-pointers midway into the half to push Grace into the lead.
Late in the half, Linville nailed two more triples, and Logan Godfrey ripped off seven points in the last six minutes to help Grace to a 42-37 lead at halftime.
Grace shot 55 percent in the first half compared to 43 percent for the Cougars (16-7, 5-6 CL), who are receiving votes in the NAIA.
The Cougars started the second half on an 11-2 run to take a four-point lead. MVNU maintained a small cushion and were on top 69-62 with eight minutes remaining.
For the next six minutes, Olive and Linville took over. The duo combined to score 15 of Grace’s next 17 points, including back-to-back scores from Linville to give Grace the lead.
After Grace’s surge, the Lancers held an 81-78 advantage with two minutes on the clock. But the Cougars recovered with four straight points to regain a one-point lead.
With a minute to play, Erik Bowen was fouled and hit both free throws to put Grace ahead for good. After a defensive stop, Olive hit a dagger to make the score 85-82.
The Cougars hit 1-of-2 from the foul line on the ensuing possession, and Olive took care of the rest. Olive hit 4-of-4 free throws down the stretch to secure Grace’s win.
Olive’s big day included 17 points in each half. He was 7-of-7 from the foul line with a trio of 3-pointers, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 2 assists.
Godfrey produced a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards, Bowen added seven points and seven rebounds, and Charlie Warner scored six points off the bench.
Grace made 54 percent of its shots for the game compared to 45 percent for MVNU. The Lancers also scored 40 points in the paint and hit 19-of-22 (88 percent) from the foul line.
The Lancers will look to put together a winning streak on Saturday at Goshen. The men’s game tips off at 1 p.m. with the women’s game to follow at 3 p.m.