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Fire Extinguish Hot-Shooting Maple Leafs At Foul Line
Maple Leafs hit at 60% in first half against top-10 foe

LAKELAND, Fla. — Logan Primerano scored 27 points and Billy Geschke added 24 to finish a 40-point weekend, but the Goshen College men’s basketball team saw its comeback fall short in a 101-98 loss to NAIA Division II no. 7 Southeastern University in the finale of the SEU Classic on Saturday.

Christian Grider added 16 points on the strength of five 3-pointers for the Maple Leafs (8-7), while Devin Heath-Granger added 12 points to go with a team-high seven assists.

Heath-Granger also chipped in a steal, allowing him to tie Ken Edwards for eighth in Goshen’s record book in that category, while pulling within two assists of Jordan Buller for the third-most assists in school history. Geschke upped his career scoring total to 1,183, passing Jordan Buller for 14th in GC history and coming within five points of 12th-place Jeff Osborne.

The Fire (11-2) opened a 10-point lead at 29-19 midway through the first half before Geschke replied with eight points in a 66-second span to fuel a 13-0 run that put the Maple Leafs in front. Goshen closed the half on a 6-0 run, this time with Primerano scoring five of the points, to lead 50-46 at the intermission.

Goshen shot 60 percent (18-for-30) from the floor in the opening stanza, including a 6-of-9 mark from long range, while forcing its hosts into 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. One day after giving the ball up 19 times in a loss to Warner, the Leafs lost the handle seven fewer times while committing just five live-ball turnovers on Saturday.

Despite shooting 40 percent in the first half, SEU kept itself alive on the glass, pulling down 18 offensive rebounds for the day and outrebounding their guests 48-25. The Fire went a perfect 14-for-14 at the foul line before halftime; that percentage would fall off to 79.2 percent (19-of-24) in the second half, but Southeastern still outscored Goshen 19-4 at the line after halftime.

Goshen’s lead reached seven twice in the second half with the Maple Leafs holding an edge as late as 11:13 remaining, when the score was 70-68. The Fire responded with seven straight points; by the time Goshen knocked down its next field goal at the 6:51 mark, it had given up a 12-1 run and trailed by as many as nine.

The Leafs whittled their deficit down to one possession twice in the waning minutes, only to allow SEU to score on the ensuing possession both times. After a couple of Goshen misses, SEU led 98-90 at the 1:45 mark before two Grider triples and a Barrie dunk pulled the visitors back within 99-98 with 14 seconds remaining.

Heath-Granger gave his fifth foul with seven seconds left to send Ryan Atkins to the foul line: the Fire’s leading scorer knocked down both shots to push the lead back to three. That still left a one-possession margin, however, and left Geschke an attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer which missed at the horn.

“I’m incredibly proud of how we responded after yesterday’s performance and I’m also proud of our fight,” said Goshen coach Jon Tropf. “We never gave up. That being said, we gave up 18 offensive rebounds, which you can’t do and expect to win.”

Atkins led all scorers with 38 points; despite going 8-for-20 from the floor, he added three 3-pointers and a 19-of-22 clip at the foul line. Isaac Barsh finished with 26 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for SEU while Grant Bryant also posted a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).

The shooting discrepancy from the first half nearly evened out completely after halftime: Southeastern shot 51.5 percent (17-for-33) from the floor to Goshen’s 50 percent (19-for-38); had the Fire posted one more miss, the shooting figures would have been identical.

Barrie led the Maple Leafs with six rebounds while Geschke added five; CJ Reese of SEU led all players with 10 assists. Barrie’s three steals were a game high.

Following a 12-day Christmas hiatus, the Maple Leafs will reconvene for an exhibition at the University of Findlay at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 28; the team’s next regular-season game comes against Grace Bible that Saturday, a prelude to the resumption of Crossroads League play three days later.