WINONA LAKE – Grace’s men’s basketball cruised to its fourth straight win with a 77-65 victory over Holy Cross on Wednesday.
The Lancers (8-3) used a strong second-half performance to pull away from the Saints (9-4).
Holy Cross entered the evening ranked No. 1 in the NAIA for scoring defense, yielding 62 points per game. But Grace beat that mark by 15 points on Wednesday.
The Lancers were especially efficient in the second half, shooting 67 percent from the floor, 71 percent from the 3-point line and 89 percent from the foul line.
Charlie Warner led all players with 18 points, and Haden Deaton added 15 points and four boards.
The first half was a defensive clash. Neither team shot well with each side under 38 percent from the floor.
The Saints jumped out to a fast 7-2 lead, and Holy Cross held a small lead for much of the half.
Hank Smith and Myles Johnson gave Grace’s offense a boost off the bench. Johnson converted an and-1, and Smith poured in eight points in less than five minutes.
Smith’s last three points came off three free throws which tied the game at 20-20.
Deaton initiated Grace’s attack late with a variety of hard drives at the basket. He scored eight points in a row for Grace to give the Lancers a four-point edge late in the half.
The Lancers went into halftime with a 32-28 advantage. Grace shot just 36 percent from the floor, including 2-for-14 (14 percent) from the 3-point line. Grace did value the ball with just three turnovers to its credit.
The Saints held a 24-14 edge in rebounding but committed seven turnovers.
Grace opened the second half with a brief 6-2 spurt to go ahead by eight, the largest lead by either team to that point.
A few minutes later, Warner and Smith buried 3-pointers for a 49-38 lead.
The Lancers maintained a double-digit cushion for nearly the final 12 minutes of action.
Holy Cross cut the lead down to eight with 2:10 remaining, but the Lancers were patient and effective on offense down the stretch to eliminate any comeback attempt.
Warner hit three 3-pointers for his 18 points, adding five boards. Smith poured in 14 points by shooting 4-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-4 on 3-pointers.
Johnson finished with 9 points, 6 boards and 3 assists, and Jaret Sons added 10 points. Braxton Linville passed out seven assists, and Martin Schiele tallied five points off the bench.
The Lancers, finishing finals this week, will head to the West Coast next week. Grace plays a pair of games in California, including at Westcliff on Monday and San Diego Christian on Tuesday.