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Lancers win 2OT thriller at NCCAA Nationals

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace kicked off the 2017 NCCAA National Championships on Wednesday with a memorable 86-80 double overtime win over Central Baptist (Ark.).

The Lancers advance to play in the national semifinals on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. against overall No. 1 Colorado Christian.

Erik Bowen was a one-man wrecking crew in the quarterfinal game. He ripped off a career-high 31 points, including 14 points in the two overtime periods to lift the Lancers in front of a joyous crowd at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Grace led the fourth-seeded Mustangs (22-11) for much of the first half. Grace pulled ahead 17-8 after nine minutes of action.

Central Baptist rallied late in the half, managing to tie the game 33-33 at halftime.

The Lancers (15-18) jumped back ahead to start the second half. Grace used a dominant 18-1 run to pull ahead 51-37 with 14 minutes remaining. Logan Godfrey scored six unanswered points during the spurt, and Jaret Sons capped off Grace’s charge with five quick points.

But to the credit of the Mustangs (22-11), the visitors refused to fade. Central Baptist battled back again with several clutch shots.

The Mustangs eventually chopped the Lancers’ lead down to one at 64-63 entering the final minute. After Grace missed two free throws, Central Baptist responded with a bucket with 19 seconds left to take a one-point lead.

With the clock winding down, Grace went to Bowen. The junior missed his first shot but was fouled after getting his own rebound. Bowen made 1-of-2 to tie the game for the first overtime session.

The first overtime session had even more late dramatics. Bowen scored four points to help the Lancers claim a one-point lead with 1:17 on the clock.

Grace forced a turnover but missed on its shot. The Mustangs were fouled, missed both of their foul shots but somehow got another offensive rebound as the clock reached its final seconds.

A desperation heave missed by the Mustangs, and Grace began to celebrate. But the official called a loose-ball foul with 0.3 seconds on the clock. The Mustangs hit 1-of-2 free throws in front of a raucous home crowd, sending the game to a second overtime.

Bowen dominated in the second OT. He powered Grace to victory, outscoring Central Baptist 10-8 by himself in the five-minute period. With the score knotted 78-78, Bowen responded with six unanswered points to rile up the MOCC fanbase.

Grace secured the win as Bowen and Stephen Halstead hit four free throws over the last 25 seconds.

Bowen hit 10-of-19 from the floor and 11-of-15 from the foul line. He also tied for game honors with 12 rebounds in 46 minutes.

Halstead tallied 16 points and four rebounds, and Godfrey added a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards.

Sons finished with 11 points off the bench, Tre Olive scored nine, and Braxton Linville had 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 0 turnovers in 46 minutes.

The Lancers return to the NCCAA semifinals for the third time in four years. Grace lost last year’s semifinal game but won in 2014 en route to a national runner-up finish.