Senior-Studded Goshen Offense Starts Strong Before Taylor Spawns Shortfall
Heath-Granger scores 13 points in six minutes to start league loss
UPLAND, Ind. — The Goshen College men’s basketball team let an opportunity to level its conference record fall by the wayside Saturday in a 76-72 Crossroads League loss to Taylor University at Gunden Gymnasium.
Goshen point guard Devin Heath-Granger led the team to a fast start, connecting on his first five shots for 13 points in the game’s first six minutes. When his third 3-pointer in as many tries sank with exactly four minutes elapsed, the Maple Leafs led 16-7.
The hosts (10-10, 3-5) pushed their lead out to 21-9 at the 12:36 mark and 27-14 just after the midpoint of the half. The opening stanza was a tale of two quarters, though: after the Maple Leafs started the game 8-for-12 from the floor, Taylor finished 9-for-13 to pull within 37-35 at halftime.
Evan Crowe led Taylor (12-8, 3-5) with 10 points in the first 20 minutes: Billy Geschke chipped in 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting to come within a point of matching Heath-Granger’s team high. Goshen used six offensive rebounds, including a game-high five caroms in the hands of Alhassan Barrie, to out-rebound its guests 19-16 at the half.
Unfortunately for the home side, Taylor’s first-half run didn’t stop at halftime: the Trojans got baskets from six players in an 18-5 run to open the second half.
After trading baskets for a handful of possessions with the margin in the low double figures, GC kicked its defense into high gear, holding the Trojans 0-for-5 with three turnovers over a five-minute span. Between the 10:30 and 5:00 marks, Taylor’s only points came at the foul line as Goshen went on a 16-5 run to re-take the lead.
Grider, who scored six points in the spurt, gave GC the edge at 61-59 with a pair of free throws at 5:17.
Taylor, though, had other ideas with a run of its own. Crowe and Mason Degenkolb scored nine of the next 11 points while running Goshen’s field-goal drought to almost five minutes. With 2:20 remaining, the Trojans had turned a 61-59 hole into a 68-63 lead.
Barrie converted a three-point play to get Goshen back within two, only to watch Ryan Robinson get a more conventional triple to push the lead back to two scores. A pair of Heath-Granger foul shots were followed by a stop: Taylor had run 22 seconds off the clock, but Goshen had the ball down three at 71-68 with 1:19 to play.
Geschke’s drive to the rim ended with a missed layup and a Degenkolb rebound. Opting to defend rather than fouling, GC drew a charge on the other end to get a second chance with 44 seconds left. This time, Heath-Granger missed a game-tying 3, and with the shot clock about to switch off, the Maple Leafs had to foul. Robinson and Jake Heggeland combined to go 5-of-6 at the line.
“Give credit to Taylor,” said Goshen interim head coach Jon Tropf. “They mixed it up on us and got us out of rhythm. It’s 100 percent my fault that our guys weren’t prepared for that. We didn’t come out to start the second half well, either. That’s something we have to get better at and we will.”
Geschke would lead all scorers with 23 points, pulling him within six of the 1,300-point plateau that only 10 Maple Leafs have reached in their careers. Heath-Granger finished the game with 15 points and a game-high eight assists: Funkhouser added 10 points before fouling out while Barrie added seven points and eight boards.
Robinson led the Trojans with 19 points off the bench, shooting 6-for-8 to go with a team-high five dimes. Crowe and Heggeland added 18 and 17 points respectively, with the former draining four 3s and the latter shooting 7-of-8. Keaton Hendricks finished with nine rebounds, outdueling Barrie and Heggeland by one for the game high.
The Trojans finished with 44 rebounds to Goshen’s 38; after starting the game 4-for-11 from the floor, TU made 24 of its last 47 shots to finish with a 47.5 percent clip. The Maple Leafs finished at 34.9 percent (22-for-63).
Goshen hits the road for two games next week, beginning with a visit to Huntington at 7 p.m. Tuesday.