Lancers topple No. 1 IWU
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team earned a signature win on Wednesday, upsetting No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan 91-87.
The victory snaps IWU’s 27-game win streak, propelling the Lancers (9-4, 2-2 Crossroads League) up the league standings.
Grace’s leading scorers in the upset were a pair of freshmen. Jake Wadding produced a career-high 21 points, and Elijah Malone also set a career mark with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
The Wildcats (17-1, 6-1 CL) tried to assume control in the early minutes, pouncing on Grace for an 11-2 lead.
After an uneasy start, Grace turned to its freshmen to level the ship. After a layup by Matt Jennings, freshmen scored the next 26 points for the Lancers.
Jakob Gibbs sparked the team with a pair of 3-pointers, and Malone scored nine points in a matter of minutes. Wadding also poured in nine points during the half, scoring on a 3-pointer and a variety of driving buckets.
Grace continued to counter the Wildcats’ runs. With 4:30 remaining in the half, Grace faced a 12-point deficit at 42-30.
But the Lancers ended the half on a sizzling 14-2 charge. A corner triple from Haden Deaton and a pair of late free throws by Jennings put Grace into a 44-44 tie as the game reached halftime.
Jennings’s 11 points led Grace, and he added four assists in the half as well.
Grace shot 55 percent as a team in the half, and IWU shot 58 percent. The Lancers made six 3-pointers at a 55-percent clip, and the Wildcats made four triples at a 50-percent rate.
Wadding scored the first seven points of the second half for Grace, the last of which put the Lancers ahead 51-50.
But the Wildcats responded. IWU steadily pulled ahead, garnering a 75-64 advantage with under 11 minutes to go.
Once again, the Lancers proved their mettle. Grace used a 10-0 run to apply pressure on the Wildcats, slicing the margin down to one.
Deaton scored in the paint to put Grace ahead by two with five minutes remaining, and the game remained close the rest of the way.
With the score knotted, Deaton hit a massive triple to give Grace a three-point lead with 3:29 on the clock.
IWU responded with four straight points to grab an 87-86 lead with 1:22 on the clock. That proved to be the final points of the night for the Wildcats.
Wadding was fouled and hit two free throws on the next possession as Grace went ahead by one.
After a pair of empty possessions by the Wildcats, Grace responded at the foul line. Malone hit a foul shot, and Cade Gibbs sank two more free throws to ice the win with four seconds to play.
Wadding was efficient, shooting 8 of 12 and 3 of 4 from the 3-point line for his 21 points. It marked Wadding’s first made 3-pointers of the season.
Malone shot 7 of 10 from the floor and 2 of 4 from beyond the arc for his 20 points, and Deaton finished with 16 points, 5 assists and 2 blocks.
Jennings finished with 11 points, 7 assists and 2 steals, and Jakob Gibbs tallied nine points on 3 of 4 shooting (2-2 3FG).
Cade Gibbs scored eight points, Frankie Davidson had 6 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal, and Eddie Gill IV had three assists and two steals as a spark off the bench.
The statistics for the game were almost identical. Grace shot 53 percent compared to 54 percent for IWU. Grace had 30 rebounds compared to 31 for IWU. Both teams had 17 turnovers and had four players score in double figures.
Wednesday’s win marks Grace’s first over the Wildcats since Jan. 9, 2016, when Grace upset another No. 1-ranked IWU squad in Marion, Ind.
The Lancers are on the road on Saturday, traveling to Taylor for a 3 p.m. tipoff.