By Josh Neuhart
Grace College Sports Information
WINONA LAKE – Grace’s men’s basketball team ended the year with a win, claiming third place at the NCCAA National Championships thanks to a 96-87 win over Alice Lloyd.
The Lancers end the year with a 20-12 record, Grace’s first 20-win season since 2015-16.
Grace had six players score in double figures and shot a sizzling 55 percent from the floor in an impressive offensive performance.
The Lancers led for nearly the entire first half. Grace opened up a seven-point cushion early in the game. Frankie Davidson and Elijah Malone accounted for 11 of the team’s first 12 points.
The Eagles recovered with a 9-1 spurt to regain the lead, but the Lancers responded with 11 unanswered points to lead by 10. Malone had four points during the spurt, and Eddie Gill IV had three.
Grace seemed in control for the rest of the half and coasted into halftime with a 49-35 lead.
Malone led all players with 12 points at the intermission, Davidson scored 10 points, and Gibbs added nine.
Grace’s defense was on full display in the first half, holding the Eagles to 32 percent shooting. The Lancers, on the other hand, shot 57 percent from the field and also earned a plus-13 edge in rebounds.
The Eagles were not content to fade down the stretch. Alice Lloyd used a 13-6 run to trim Grace’s lead down to seven with 12 minutes to play.
Gill buried a triple on Grace’s next possession to give the Lancers breathing room, but the Eagles continued to apply pressure.
Alice Lloyd scored six straight to pull within 84-80 with less than four minutes remaining. But Grace’s defense locked down the Eagles for the next two minutes.
Gibbs sank a jump shot in the lane with 2:53 on the clock, and Davidson followed that up with an and-1 to increase the Lancers’ lead to nine.
Grace kept the Eagles scoreless over the final two minutes, securing third place in the national tournament.
Davidson scored a game-high 20 points to go along with nine rebounds, and Gibbs produced 19 points and three boards.
Malone shot 7 of 9 for 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, and Gill tallied 16 points, 7 boards and 2 assists.
Matt Jennings tallied 12 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds, and Deaton nearly had a double-double in his collegiate finale with 10 points, 9 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Saturday’s game officially wraps up the careers of graduating seniors Deaton, Cody Holmes, Jennings and Drew Beck.
Alice Lloyd 68, Northwestern 53
Southwestern Christian 80, Concordia 65
Northwestern 82, Ottawa 75
Grace 96, Alice Lloyd 87