Grace Pulls Off Thriller in the Sunshine State
Kissimmee, Florida - This afternoon the Grace Tigers took the floor one more time in the sunshine state, this time facing the Conquistadors of Florida National University.
Grace quickly found themselves down after Florida National rushed to a 10-0 lead after only 1:20 into the game. The Conquistador run was halted by a 15 foot jumper by junior Cameron Cramer, but they were able to hold on to an 8-10 point lead for the next 10 minutes. As the first half dwindled, the Tigers were able to chip away and eventually take the lead, 34-31, at the five minute mark on a 3-pointer from junior Brad Rosenzweig. The Conquistadors were able to battle back and take a 44-40 lead into the half after a solid final five minutes of play.
The Conquistadors were able to keep their lead for a while at the start of the second half, until Grace was able to eventually chip away once again, on the backs of great inside play from Cramer, Rosenzweig, and sophomore Luke McKian. The Tigers took their largest lead of the game after a 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring from freshman Jared Bradford put them up 73-69. The Tigers were able to extend the lead to five points with 1:21 left, when Bradford caught contact on his way to the hole causing his back to be completely to the hoop and was still able to somehow flip the ball up and into the basket. The lead was short-lived, as the Conquistadors quickly nailed a long three point shot and added another quick bucket, tying the game at 80-80. A late Grace turnover allowed the Conquistadors one last chance to win the game, but their lay-up as the buzzer sounded fell short, resulting in overtime.
Overtime began with a quick bucket from Luke McKian, quickly answered by another NBA-range 3-pointer from Florida National. A couple quick buckets from the Conquistadors put them up 3 points with only a couple minutes remaining. The next two possessions, Bradford was able to connect on another 3-point shot and Cramer was able to finish a lay-up on a great feed from sophomore Paul TenHarmsel to put the Tigers up 89-87. Bradford was able to make a key defensive play the next possession, taking a huge charge on the Conquistadors star guard, Quantavis Hall, who ended with 39 points in the game.
“You knew when he was getting the ball he wanted to go to the hole and I saw he was going right to the hole and just tried to stay in my place and took the charge,” said Bradford after the game.
Grace held the lead for the final minute, and the Conquistadors final 3-point shot fell off the mark, as it was contested very well by the Tigers. The game ended with a final score of Grace 92, Florida National 90.
Cramer had a monster of a game with 29 points on 13-21 shooting, while adding 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. Bradford followed Cramer with 15 points and a team high 4 assists on the day. Rosenzweig joined Cramer with a double-double of his own, recording 14 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Senior point guard Nick Mascorro managed the game well, ending in double figures with 12 points, while chipping in 3 assists.
The Tigers will return to action next Thursday, January 9th, as they travel to Portland, Oregon to face Portland Bible College in their first of three games on the west coast.