Tigers Doomed by Slow Start, Fall to GLCC 80-86Junior Cameron Cramer rises up for two over the Crusader defender.
Lansing, Michigan – The Grace Tigers were sitting undefeated in official Midwest Region games going into tonight’s match-up against the new and improved Crusaders of Great Lakes Christian College. Both teams were coming off key victories, with the Tigers taking down NCCAA II #4 Kuyper College last week and the Crusaders winning handedly over last year’s regional champ, Northland International University.
Right when the game started, Great Lakes was able to knock down long-range shot after long-range shot, jumping out to a quick 16-7 lead. Coach Bailey quickly looked to make a change, subbing out all five starters hoping for some energy off the bench to gain the lead back. The Grace bench was not able to recover the lead right away, and Great Lakes was able to extend their advantage to 24 points with only 8:00 running off of the clock for the game, with the score sitting at 33-9. At this point, it seemed as if a switched was turned on for the Tigers, and for the rest of the half they were able to chip away at the lead, ultimately going into the half down 49-41.
At the start of the second half Grace was able to pick up where they had left off, putting together a 10-0 run to immediately take their first lead of the night. The Crusaders were able to fight right back, putting together an 8-0 run of their own to retake the lead at 57-51. For the next 10 minutes, Grace was able to put together some great possessions on both ends of the floor, finding themselves up 73-66 after back to back buckets from junior Travis Rader. One of the buckets is very worthy of mentioning, as freshman Jared Bradford found Rader trailing him on a fast break and left him an alley-oop off of the glass, which Rader subsequently flushed down through the net (see video below). With the momentum completely in Grace’s favor at this point, the group of five that was clicking for the Tigers seemingly lost its gas, and Great Lakes came fighting right back once again. A couple empty Tiger possessions and another hot shooting streak from the Crusaders led to a 14-4 Crusader run that would give them a 80-77 lead with one minute remaining in the game. After a basket from the Crusaders put them up 5 points with under 30 seconds to go, senior Nick Mascorro was able to give the Tigers new life with a quick coast-to-coast and-one basket, converting on the free throw to cut the Crusader lead to two. The next possession the Tigers were forced to foul, and that is exactly what they did, but unfortunately the official deemed the foul intentional, virtually ending the game as the Crusaders nailed the two free throws and were awarded possession of the ball to follow. When the buzzer had sounded, Great Lakes earned their first ever victory against the Tigers, 86-80. Grace falls to 12-13 on the season, and will need to defeat Maranatha Baptist Bible College on Valentine’s weekend to keep the #1 seed going into Regionals.
Bradford led the Tigers with 21 points on 9-11 shooting, including 3-4 from the 3-point line. Rader followed with 14 on a very efficient 6-7 from the floor. Junior Cameron Cramer was able to chip in 11 points and 6 rebounds . Sophomore Paul TenHarmsel and Mascorro rounded out the Tiger double-digit scorers with 11 and 10, respectively.
Grace returns to action this Saturday at 3:00 PM to take on Silver Lake College at home in the Aldrich Athletic Center. Stay up to date on the website for the live broadcast link and game preview.