WINONA LAKE – A night after it couldn’t find a shot to fall in a devastating loss, Grace seemingly couldn’t miss Thursday morning against Nebraska Christian.
The Lancers shot 53 percent for the game in blowing out the Sentinels 89-61 in the second round of the NCCAA Men’s Basketball National Championships. The win moves Grace into the fifth-place game Friday at 5 p.m. against Columbia International.
Grace outscored Nebraska Christian 16-2 over the first six minutes of the game and ran its lead to 33-8 in what became a runaway game. Grace shot 65 percent from the floor in the first half (20-31), and outscored NCC in the paint 40-18, and benefitted from 47 points from its bench.
Jaret Sons led Grace (17-16) with 20 points, one of five Lancers in double figures. Haden Deaton had 15 points, Martin Schiele ended with 13 points and Logan Godfrey and Charlie Warner finished with 12 and 11 points.
Nebraska struggled for the most part, committing 17 turnovers to its 20 field goals made. The Sentinels shots just 28 percent for the game (20-70) and were just 7-26 from three-point range. Drue Aguilera led the Sentinels (14-17) with 14 points, which will meet Piedmont International Friday at 1 p.m.
Grace’s game Friday evening will signify the final game for Grace head coach Jim Kessler, who announced in February he is retiring from coaching after 42 years. Thursday’s win moved Kessler past Lefty Driesell and Jim Smith on the all-time wins list, and will be going for win No. 788 on his home court. Kessler will work the sidelines one final time later this month at the NAIA All-Star Game, where Logan Godfrey will also take part.
NCCAA play started bright and early Thursday morning, with Columbia International defeating Piedmont International 65-61 in the other consolation bracket matchup. Columbia used 21 points and five steals from Arthur Pearson and 14 points from Eric Graham to get the win. Temir Glenn finished with a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds for Piedmont.
Later Thursday Roberts Wesleyan and Hannibal-LaGrange will meet up in the winner’s bracket, followed by top seed Cedarville and Bluefield.