Grace scores 102 to beat No. 11 Bethel
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Despite missing its leading scorer, Grace’s men’s basketball team topped the century mark in a 102-89 win over No. 11 Bethel on Saturday.
All seven Lancers who saw the court scored at least eight points, including a team-high 22 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists from Haden Deaton to beat the Pilots (18-5, 8-3 CL).
Saturday’s win marks Grace’s third NAIA Top 25 upset of the season (No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan, then-No. 20 St. Francis).
Grace was incredibly efficient on both sides of the floor. The Lancers (13-7, 6-5 CL) shot 58 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the 3-point line. Bethel was held to 42 percent as a team and just 6 of 26 (23 percent) from the 3-point line.
The first half started back and forth for the first 10 minutes. Grace started to gain control of the game with eight straight points in the paint, handing the Lancers a five-point lead.
Elijah Malone was a force to be reckoned with in the contest. The freshman scored seven points in a three-minute span, pounding Bethel’s posts in the paint.
A 3-pointer from Jakob Gibbs put the Lancers ahead 34-24 with three minutes to go in the half. The Pilots tried to rally with back-to-back triples, but Gibbs responded with four quick points.
The final possession of the half went to Grace, and the Lancers used it well. Deaton drilled a stepback 3-pointer in the closing seconds, giving Grace momentum and a 43-32 lead at halftime.
Gibbs led all players with 12 points off the bench, and Malone was dominant with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
Grace had six more rebounds and held Bethel to a 3-of-10 performance from beyond the arc.
Shortly into the second half, Grace seized control of the game for good. The Lancers rattled off a 13-2 run over the span of three minutes.
Malone scored six points in that spurt, Jake Wadding scored four, and Matt Jennings buried a triple. By the end of the run, Grace had blown open a 21-point lead with 15 minutes left in the contest.
Grace refused to let Bethel make a run, still holding a 21-point cushion at 78-57 with 5:56 on the clock.
The Pilots did their best to come back, employing a fullcourt press and fouling Grace to stop the clock.
But the Lancers never allowed the lead to dip below 11 for the rest of regulation for a convincing victory.
Malone flirted with triple-double territory. The freshman shot 8 of 12 from the floor, finishing with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 8 blocked shots in 26 minutes.
Gibbs picked a good game to score a career high, amassing 18 points, 8 boards and 3 assists.
Wadding tallied 15 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers, and Frankie Davidson added 11 points, 4 boards and 4 assists.
Jennings scored 11 points to go along with three assists, and Eddie Gill IV was a spark off the bench with eight points on 4 of 5 shooting.
The Lancers grabbed 12 more boards than the Pilots (48-36) and had just 11 turnovers in the contest.
Next up, Grace will hit the road on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tilt at St. Francis (who is receiving votes in the NAIA).