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Basketball Stories

Kessler to assist USA Basketball at University Games

5/14/13

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Grace College head coach Jim Kessler was announced as a court coach for the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games training camp.

Kessler will assist USA Basketball’s coaching staff during the team’s training camp from June 24-July 1 for the 2013 Men’s University Games.

The USA men will be coached by Davidson College’s Bob McKillop and assisted by Michigan’s John Beilein and South Carolina’s Frank Martin. The 2013 World University Games are held in Kazan, Russia, from July 6-17.

“I’m highly honored to have the opportunity to contribute to USA Basketball. It’s an honor for the NAIA to be included at this level. I think USA Basketball is recognizing there are a lot of good coaches at this level,” Kessler said. “I’m thrilled at this opportunity to help pick and train players to represent us in Russia. If nothing else, I want to encourage these guys to represent us well. We’ll go overseas with a target on our back as the United States, so we need to leave the all-star attitude behind, play hard and play together.”

Kessler will serve as court coach alongside Tad Boyle of the University of Colorado and Matt Matheny of Elon College at next month’s training camp.

Organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the World University Games is a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24 (born between January 1, 1989 and December 31, 1995), and are or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university.

“It’s an honor to represent the NAIA, our league, Grace College and the state of Indiana,” Kessler continued. “I’m humbled to have this chance, and I appreciate USA Basketball and the NAIA for allowing me to represent them.”

Kessler has amassed 679 career wins at Grace during his 36-year coaching career. He has directed the Lancers to 15 20-win seasons and three 30-win seasons during his time, including a 24-10 record last year and a trip to the 2013 NAIA Division II National Championship semifinals.

To view the complete news release from USA Basketball, click here.


Lancers ranked No. 5 in final NAIA poll

3/20/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Following Grace's magical run through the 2013 NAIA National Championships, the Lancers' men's basketball team finished as the No. 5 team in the nation in the final NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Poll.

Grace, who entered NAIA Nationals as an unseeded team, charged their way into the national semifinals with three tournament wins in three days.

The Lancers jumped up 15 spots in the final poll, the largest positive mover in the nation. Grace ended the season as the highest-ranked Crossroads League team.

Overall, Grace has appeared in the NAIA Nationals in five of the past six years. They have advanced to the national quarterfinals in three of those trips, including this year's run to the "Fab Four."


Four Lancers earn NAIA Scholar-Athletes

3/19/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. - Grace's men's basketball team tied for third in NAIA Division II when four Lancers earned Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete status.

Senior Elliot Smith and juniors Greg Miller, Jacob Goodman and Morgan Michalski each posted a GPA of at least 3.5 to achieve Scholar-Athlete recognition.

Overall, 134 student-athletes were honored as NAIA Scholar-Athletes. The Lancers' four award winners tied Bethel College, Indiana Wesleyan, Illinois Tech and Ottawa (Kan.) for third in the nation. Hastings (Neb.) was first in the NAIA with seven Scholar-Athletes and Nebraska Wesleyan was second with five.

Miller also earned national academic honors when he won Second Team for Capital One Academic All-America®.

The Lancers advanced to the national semifinals of the 2013 NAIA Divison II Men's Basketball Championships. Grace has appeared in the NAIA Nationals in five of the past six years.


Grimm lauded as NAIA First Team All-American

3/16/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Senior point guard Bruce Grimm Jr. wrapped up his final season in a Lancer uniform by being named First Team All-American by the NAIA. Greg Miller also earned honorable mention status for NAIA All-American.

Grimm and Miller both appeared on the NAIA’s 10-man All-Tournament Team after the Lancers’ charge to the “Final Four” in Branson, Mo.

Additionally, Grace was given the NAIA Team Champions of Character Award as was announced at the tournament’s conclusion.

Grimm piloted the Lancers to three consecutive berths into the NAIA National Championships, including Grace’s run to the national semifinals in 2013.

He finished the regular season with 17.9 points, 2.0 steals and a Crossroads League-best 5.5 assists per game as the Lancers finished second in the CL (13-5). Grimm was also the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Grimm becomes Grace’s first individual to win First Team All-American honors from the NAIA since Eric Gaff in 2009.

Miller picked up the first national award of his career with honorable mention status for NAIA All-American. He averaged 16.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Lancers.

From the NCCAA national office, Grimm was awarded as a Second Team NCCAA All-American while Miller garnered honorable mention status for All-American.


Offensive struggles doom Grace in NAIA Semifinals

3/11/13

BRANSON, Mo. – Grace’s sparkling run through the 2013 NAIA National Championship came to a halt on Monday in the national semifinals to No. 1 William Penn, 79-58.

The Lancers were tied with the top-seeded Statesmen at halftime, but Grace’s offense went cold for much of the second half en route to their final four defeat.

Grace made 23 percent of their shots in the second half, including 2-of-13 from the 3-point line. Their 31.3 percent shooting performance for the game was the team’s second lowest all year.

William Penn held a 49-47 lead six minutes into the second half, but the Lancers’ offense dried up as they tallied just 11 points over the final 13:20. Grace missed its last 11 shots of regulation and was scoreless for the final 4:11.

The Statesmen (34-1) closed the game on a 30-11 run.

The first half was a different story as the Lancers (24-10) held a lead for nearly the entire half against the highest-scoring team in the nation.

Midway into the half, William Penn managed to knot the game at 21-21. But Grace unleashed a 10-0 run thanks to 3-pointers from Elliot Smith and Karl Columbus to take a sizeable lead.

But the Statesmen showcased their offensive ability with 11 unanswered points after that point, claiming their first lead of the contest.

Grace brought the score back to even just before halftime at 36-36 with a pair of free throws from Dennis Williams.

Greg Miller was a strong offensive presence in the opening half with 10 points in limited time (10 minutes) due to picking up his second foul.

Miller led the Lancers for the game with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and Smith made 3-of-7 from the 3-point line for 13 points.

Bruce Grimm Jr. recorded 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, and Columbus added 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting with seven rebounds. Tannan Peters also hauled in seven rebounds.

The loss ends the sterling careers of graduating seniors Bruce Grimm Jr., Elliot Smith, Lee Ross and Tannan Peters. Over the past four years, Grace has appeared in three NAIA National Championships and won the 2012 Crossroads League tournament championship.


Lancers charge into final four, down Dakota State

3/9/13

BRANSON, Mo. – Grace’s men’s basketball team continued its memorable run through the NAIA Division II National Championships with a 72-59 win over Dakota State on Saturday.

The victory lands the Lancers (24-9) in the national semifinals on Monday 7 p.m. EST against No. 1 William Penn (Iowa).

All five starters for Grace recorded double-digit scoring, paced by 18 points apiece from Tannan Peters and Karl Columbus.

Grace made 50 percent of their field goals, including an impressive 16-of-18 performance from the free throw line. Grace’s defense also held Dakota State in check at 36 percent shooting for the game.

“I was really proud of how we made adjustments in the second half. As the game ended in the first half, we got a little lax and committed some turnovers,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “We adjusted well to Dakota in the second half, spread the court and attacked off the dribble. We are just thrilled to be here and excited to advance.”

Grace held onto a lead for much of the opening half thanks to excellent shooting. The Lancers made 54 percent of their field goals before halftime.

Ballhandling was an issue for Grace in the beginning stages of the half, however, as they committed six turnovers in a four-minute span. But for the final 34 minutes of regulation, Grace turned the ball over just four more times.

Dakota State kept themselves in the game by drilling 6-of-12 from the 3-point line in the first half. The Trojans (24-10) ended the half on a 12-4 spurt to cut Grace’s advantage to 35-34 at the half.

With 18:33 to play, the Trojans led 38-37 before Grace seized control of the game with a crucial 15-2 run. Grace led 52-40 after their charge and never trailed again.

The Trojans did not go down easily, however, as they clawed their way back to within four points of the Lancers’ cushion with seven minutes remaining.

But Grace’s defense secured the team’s place in the semifinals by yielding just four points over the final seven minutes.

“Several people really stepped up and had nice jobs for us. Tannan [Peters] particularly showed some real determination and shot the ball well today. Elliot [Smith] and Bruce [Grimm] gave us the shooting we needed today, and Karl [Columbus] came through with his jump shot.”

Columbus made 8-of-11 from the floor to go along with five rebounds and three assists, and Peters swished 4-of-5 from the 3-point line for his 18 points.

Elliot Smith made a pair of 3-pointers for 12 points, Bruce Grimm Jr. tallied 12 points and four assists, and Greg Miller produced 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Grace’s semifinal matchup on Monday (7 p.m. EST) will be the team’s first since the 1991-92 season.

Follow the team live in Branson with video coverage (paid subscription) from the NAIA and live audio coverage (no charge) with Grace’s Stretch Internet.


Blowouts in Branson continue as Grace advances to final eight

3/8/13

BRANSON, Mo. – Grace’s men’s basketball team continued its inspired play in the NAIA National Championships with a 72-53 victory over California Maritime on Friday.

The Lancers advanced to the “Elite Eight” round for the third time in the past six years where they will meet the winner of Dakota State and St. Thomas on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.

Elliot Smith made four 3-pointers for 18 points, and Karl Columbus added 18 points and nine boards to pace the Lancers.

“Tonight was a contrasting type of game from last night. Playing in the Crossroads League definitely prepares us to play against up-tempo teams and against teams that slow it down and pack it in the paint,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “They worked hard to take Greg [Miller] out of things, and other guys stepped up. That’s what good teams do. We were able to spread the court more, and when they pack [the paint], you gotta hit outside shots. And Elliot [Smith] was happy to oblige.”

The defense for the Lancers suffocated the Keelhaulers (25-7) over the first five minutes, allowing just two points en route to an early 12-2 lead.

It was the Lancers’ turn to struggle on offense after that point, however, as Grace went 5:10 without making a field goal.

But the Lancers (23-9) managed to hold onto their lead, eventually taking a 22-19 advantage into the halftime break.

California Maritime trimmed Grace’s lead to 27-23 within the first minutes after halftime. But Bruce Grimm Jr., Columbus and Smith sparked the Lancers to a 22-4 run that broke the backs of the Keelhaulers.

Columbus went on an 8-0 run by himself, and Smith further propelled the Lancers when he buried three straight 3-pointers in less than 1:30 of action.

Grace’s charge handed the team a 20-point cushion that proved to be insurmountable for the final 13 minutes of regulation.

Kessler subbed Grace’s starters out for the final four minutes, and Grace’s bench maintained a comfortable advantage for the remaining minutes.

“A number of our people came off the bench and did a nice job,” Kessler said. “Playing back-to-back games shows the depth of your team, and I was really proud of our bench tonight.”

Grace’s defense held California Maritime’s starting players to 12 combined points. The Lancers, on the other hand, had 12 players register a point in the scoring column.

Grimm finished with 8 points, 3 assists and 3 steals, Greg Miller tallied five points and eight boards, and freshman Kyle Fillman produced five points and four rebounds off the bench.

The Lancers shot 63 percent (17-of-27) in the second half compared to 31 percent (9-of-29) in the first half. The Keelhaulers made less than 35 percent of their field goals for the game, including 3-of-14 from beyond the arc.

Follow the team live in Branson with video coverage (paid subscription) from the NAIA and live audio coverage (no charge) with Grace’s Stretch Internet.


Grace blows past Tennessee Wesleyan in NAIA first round

3/7/13

BRANSON, Mo. – Grace’s men’s basketball team may have entered the 2013 NAIA National Championships as the underdog, but any questions of their caliber were quickly erased with a 93-69 throttling of No. 13 Tennessee Wesleyan on Thursday.

The Lancers shot 65 percent and ripped off 54 first-half points to knock off the hottest team in the nation.

The Bulldogs (25-8) owned an NAIA-best 18-game winning streak entering their game against the Lancers. But Tennessee Wesleyan, who is the third-highest scoring team in NAIA Division II, was held to 21 points below their season average on Thursday.

“In this game, our discipline and execution was really the key to what happened,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “When you shoot 65 percent from the field, that’s evidence that you are taking good shots. We continually got to the basket.”  

Grace could not have started any stronger by making their first five shot attempts and forcing three turnovers from the Bulldogs. After a 3-pointer from Tannan Peters less than three minutes into the contest, the Lancers (22-9) owned an 11-0 lead.

Tennessee Wesleyan countered with seven unanswered of their own before back-to-back 3-pointers from Elliot Smith and Greg Miller jumpstarted the Lancers.

Grace made an impressive 69 percent from the floor in the first half. They continued to find the mark after halftime by making 12-of-20 (60 percent).

The Bulldogs’ offense did its best to keep pace with the Lancers in the second half, but Tennessee Wesleyan never inched closer than 11 points of Grace’s lead after halftime.

Grace got to the free throw line 19 times in the second half and made 13 of their attempts.

“Defensively we were able to keep the ball in front of us for the most part. We got on the boards strong which was huge,” Kessler said. “I’m really proud of them. This was a good effort by us on both ends of the court.”

Bruce Grimm Jr. and Greg Miller each topped 20 points in the win. Grimm produced 25 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals, and Miller added 21 points and seven boards. Both players went 9-of-14 shooting.

Smith buried 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for 11 points, Karl Columbus tallied 11 points and four assists, Peters pulled down a game-high seven rebounds, and Dennis Williams added 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench.

The Lancers will play on Friday in the second round against California Maritime at 6:45 p.m. EST.

Follow the team live in Branson with video coverage (paid subscription) from the NAIA and live audio coverage (no charge) with Grace’s Stretch Internet.


Lancers set for NAIA opening round matchup

3/6/13

BRANSON, Mo. – Grace’s men’s basketball team is poised to get back onto the hardwood on Thursday for the NAIA National Championships.

The Lancers (21-9) will face off with 13th-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan in their opening-round battle at 5 p.m. EST.

Grace holds an all-time tournament record of 8-5 in the NAIA Division II National Championship, but the Lancers are hoping to buck a recent trend of losing in the first round (2012, 2011). Grace boasts an experienced postseason roster as they have advanced to NAIA Nationals in five of the past six years.

The Lancers’ opponent, Tennessee Wesleyan, owns the longest current winning streak in the nation. The Bulldogs have not tasted defeat since Jan. 2 en route to their 18-game winning streak entering Thursday’s contest.

“Tennessee Wesleyan has been on a big run as of late. They’re an athletic, up-tempo team – which we have played well against in the past,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “They play deep, hard and up-tempo. They’re a very nice team with several quality wins on the schedule.”

The Bulldogs are searching for the program’s first NAIA tournament victory as they have come up empty in each of their previous four attempts. Tennessee Wesleyan features the third-highest scoring offense in the country at 90.6 points per game. Desmond Crisp paces the Bulldogs with 16.0 points per game.

With a win over Tennessee Wesleyan on Thursday, Grace will play in the second round on Friday at 6:45 p.m. before the quarterfinals on Saturday at 9 p.m. View the 2013 bracket here.

Follow the team live in Branson with video coverage (paid subscription) from the NAIA and live audio coverage (no charge) with Grace’s Stretch Internet.


Branson Bound: Lancers to play Tennessee Wesleyan in NAIA first round

2/27/13

[2013 NAIA Bracket]

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Grace’s men’s basketball team earned its third straight trip to the NAIA Division II National Championships with a 21-9 record.

The Lancers will take on Tennessee Wesleyan in the first round of NAIA Nationals on Thursday, March 7.

“We’re very happy to play in this tournament again – it’s been a very good run for us the past several years,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “We’ve had a great season so far, and by winning eight of our final 11 games, we got the wins we needed.”

Grace, who has punched its ticket to NAIA Nationals in five of the past six seasons, was ranked No. 20 in the Top 25 Coaches’ Poll released Wednesday afternoon.

Their opponent in the first round, Tennessee Wesleyan, hails from the Appalachian Athletic Conference and boasts a record of 25-7. The Bulldogs are winners of their past 18 contests and feature the third-highest scoring offense in NAIA Div. II at 90.6 points per game.

The Lancers earned the sixth of 12 at-large bids into the national tournament. Bruce Grimm Jr. (17.7 ppg, 5.4 apg), Greg Miller (17.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and Elliot Smith (11.3 ppg, 41% 3-pointers) lead Grace’s squad.

“The body of work for the season showed that we should be in the tournament, but we stubbed our toe against Marian in the last game. So for us we feel like we have a second chance, and with that comes a certain amount of energy. We want to make it count,” Kessler said. “Now we need to focus on staying loose for our first game. We need to play with no fear, play free on the court and get after it with confidence.”

Follow the team live in Branson with video coverage (paid subscription) from the NAIA and live audio coverage (no charge) with Grace’s Stretch Internet.


Woeful offense unravels Lancers

2/20/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team did not defend its Crossroads League tournament championship the way it had imagined, exiting in the first round to Marian by the score of 62-54 on Wednesday.

The NAIA No. 17 Lancers had a number of long scoring droughts to allow the Knights to escape the Orthopaedic Capital Center with the upset.

The loss eliminates Grace from obtaining an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships. The Lancers will await the revealing of the NAIA Division II bracket on Feb. 27 to see if the team will be rewarded with an at-large invitation. Grace is hoping for a fifth trip to Branson, Mo., in the past six years.

Grace started with a lack of energy, allowing the Knights (16-13) to take the first lead of the game. Over the first four minutes of action, the Lancers committed five turnovers and missed their first three shots.

The Lancers (21-9) seemed to find their rhythm when a 3-pointer by Niko Read jumpstarted seven unanswered points. After Elliot Smith was fouled on another 3-point attempt and converted all three free throws, Grace had its largest lead of the game at 19-14.

But Grace’s second offensive dry spell hit in the final five minutes of the half. The Lancers did not make a field goal for the last 4:50, allowing Marian to score eight straight points and claim a 31-27 advantage at halftime.

If the start to the first half was bad for the Lancers, the beginning of the second half was even worse. Grace went nearly nine minutes after halftime without adding another point to the scoreboard. The Lancers missed their first 10 shots of the second half.

Taking into account Grace’s offensive struggles between the end of the first half and the start of the second half, the Lancers played 13:24 of basketball without making a field goal.

A layup from Bruce Grimm Jr. with 11:26 to play broke Grace’s drought to cut Marian’s lead to 39-29.

Greg Miller did his best to put the Lancers back within striking distance with six points in a four-minute span. Grace trimmed their deficit to six points on three occasions, but each time Marian had the answer.

With 2:07 to play Marian held a 56-43 lead before a valiant Lancer comeback. Grimm made two quick shots in the paint, and Miller buried a 3-pointer to bring the Lancers within 56-50 with 1:22 remaining.

But the Knights hit six free throws over the final 70 seconds to hold on for the upset.

The Lancers made 18-of-53 from the floor (34 percent), including 3-of-18 from beyond the arc.

Miller was the lone offensive bright spot for Grace with 22 points and five rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting. Grimm tallied 11 points and four rebounds, and Read chipped in five points and five boards off the bench.


Miller named Second Team Academic All-America

2/20/13

TOWSON, Md. – Junior forward Greg Miller was given the distinguished honor as a Second Team selection for Capital One Academic All-America®, as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

The College Division of the Capital One Academic All-America® basketball teams is comprised of student-athletes from NAIA, Canadian and two-year institutions who have earned at least a 3.3 GPA. Eligible student-athletes are then voted upon based on both athletic and academic accomplishments.

Miller currently holds a 3.60 GPA as a business administration and sport management major.

During the regular season Miller posted averages of 17.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in helping the Lancers to second place in the Crossroads League. He made 54 percent of his field goals for the year, including 40 percent from the 3-point line.

To view the complete CoSIDA Academic All-America release, click here.


Grace catapults up to No. 17 in NAIA poll

2/19/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After ending the season with three straight wins, Grace’s men’s basketball team was rewarded with the No. 17 ranking in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll released Tuesday.

The Lancers upset back-to-back ranked teams last week (Bethel, Taylor) in clinching second place in the Crossroads League.

Grace (21-8) will host the seventh-seeded Marian University on Wednesday in the first round of the CL Tournament. With a victory on Wednesday, Grace will host the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of Bethel and Saint Francis.

If Grace can defend its league tournament championship, the Lancers will earn an automatic berth into the NAIA National Championships. Grace has advanced to NAIA Nationals in four of the past five seasons via automatic bid or at-large bid.

To view the complete poll, click here.


Grimm named Defensive Player of the Year to highlight league awards

2/18/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – After leading Grace’s men’s basketball team to second place in the Crossroads League, senior point guard Bruce Grimm Jr. was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Grimm, who also earned First Team All-League honors for the second straight year, averaged 2.0 steals per game to go along with 17.9 points and a league-best 5.5 assists.

Junior Greg Miller appeared on the league’s Second Team after producing 17.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest. He also made 40 percent of his 3-pointers and 54 percent of his field goals.

Senior guard Elliot Smith rounded out Grace’s league honors with an honorable mention to All-League status. Smith scored 11.5 points per game while drilling 42 percent of his shots from the 3-point line.

The Lancers host seventh-seeded Marian on Wednesday 7 p.m. for the first round of the Crossroads League Tournament. With a victory, Grace will host the CL Semifinals on Saturday against the winner of Saint Francis and Bethel.

Grace is hoping to qualify for its fifth trip in six years to the NAIA National Championships.


Lancers conclude regular season on high note

2/16/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace ended the 2012-13 regular season by winning its third straight contest to head into next week’s Crossroads League Tournament as the No. 2 seed.

Bruce Grimm Jr. led all players with 22 points to lift the Lancers to a 69-63 victory over No. 25 Taylor on Grace’s Senior Day.

The Lancers (21-8; 13-5 Crossroads League) will host seventh-seeded Marian University on Wednesday at 7 p.m. With a win over Marian, Grace will host the winner of Bethel/Saint Francis in the tournament semifinals next Saturday. The tournament championship will be played Feb. 26 with the champion earning an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships.

Grace recorded its third straight game with six or fewer turnovers. Against Taylor, they shot 50 percent or better from the floor each half.

The first half was a classic Crossroads League battle as the teams traded small leads.

Grace erased a 12-9 deficit with an 11-2 spurt thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Elliot Smith.

The Lancers’ defense held Taylor to 32 percent shooting in the first half. The Trojans (19-11; 11-7 CL) found a way to score from the free throw line, however.

Taylor made 14-of-16 from the charity stripe before halftime. Over the final 9:26 of the first half, Taylor made just three field goals but sank 10 free throws.

Grace’s offense, on the other hand, was fluid with a 54 percent shooting clip in the first half. Grimm led all players with 13 points as the Lancers were up 34-33 at the half.

The Lancers stayed ahead of the Trojans for the duration of the second half, but they never led by more than nine points.

With 2:03 to play the Lancers led 60-57, but the Trojans were at the free throw line for a bonus attempt. Taylor missed the front-end of the 1-and-1, and Greg Miller scored quickly to put the Lancers ahead by five.

The Trojans were again fouled but made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make the score 62-58 with 1:23 remaining.

Karl Columbus then put the game out of reach back-to-back buckets, the last of which was a fastbreak layup aided by a steal by Miller. After Columbus’s burst, the Lancers were ahead by eight points with 49 seconds to play.

Columbus scored nine of his 11 points after halftime. He finished 5-of-6 from the floor.

Grimm’s 22 points came with a team-best five assists and a steal. Miller tallied eight points and six rebounds, and Smith scored 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the 3-point line.

Dennis Williams contributed 5 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, and Kyle Fillman added 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks off the bench.

Grace’s senior class of Grimm, Smith, Tannan Peters and Lee Ross were honored on Saturday. The foursome has led the Lancers to back-to-back berths to NAIA Nationals and is on the cusp on a third straight appearance.


Grace upends No. 18 Bethel to grab second in league

2/12/13

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team picked up one of its biggest wins of the season with a 96-83 upset on the road of No. 18 Bethel College on Tuesday.

The Lancers now own sole possession of second place in the Crossroads League with one game remaining in the regular season.

Grace, who is a game behind league leader Indiana Wesleyan, will hope to clinch no worse than No. 2 in the league on Saturday when they host Taylor at 3 p.m.

Five players reached double-digit scoring for the Lancers (20-8; 12-5 CL). Elliot Smith hit several momentum-shifting shots for Grace, drilling 7-of-10 from the 3-point line for a game-high 23 points.

Bruce Grimm Jr. continued to cement his status as the top point guard in the league with 18 points, 8 assists and 0 turnovers.

As a team, the Lancers tied a season-low with four turnovers and drilled a season-best 13 treys.

With the score knotted at 19-19 in the first half, Niko Read came off the bench to propel the Lancers with back-to-back 3-pointers in 21 seconds of action. Grace did not trail after Read’s six-point swing.

Grace used a 7-0 run late in the first half to open up a double-digit advantage, but the Pilots (20-9; 11-6 CL) countered with a 9-1 swing of their own.

Lee Ross then buried a 3-pointer on Grace’s final possession of the first half to lift the Lancers to a 44-36 lead at the half.

Read provided another boost for the Lancers when he connected on a 3-pointer and was fouled, handing Grace a commanding 59-44 lead with 13:18 to play.

Bethel seemed up for the challenge and eventually cut the gap to six at 77-71 with 4:58 remaining.

But Smith, who made a trio of 3-pointers in three minutes, sank his final trey on Grace’s ensuing possession to stem Bethel’s momentum.

Grimm buried another triple on Grace’s next play, and the Lancers connected on nine free throws over the final 2:52 to ice the win.

Karl Columbus produced 18 points and five rebounds, and Greg Miller added 16 points and eight boards.

Tannan Peters led all players with 10 rebounds to go along with a career-best four assists, Read made 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for 10 points, and Brandon Vanderhegghen chipped in 2 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.

The Pilots made 50 percent of their field goals, but the Lancers helped themselves by making 27-of-37 from the foul line.

Grace’s 96 points was the team’s highest offensive output since the Lancers’ 100-97 win over Bethel on Feb. 14, 2012.

*UPDATE (2/13/13 - 3:39 pm) Due to tiebreaking procedure, Grace can finish no lower or higher than the No. 2 seed in the upcoming league tournament. The Lancers can still earn a share of the regular season league title with a win on Saturday and a loss by Indiana Wesleyan, but the Wildcats hold the tiebreaker against the Lancers to give IWU the No. 1 seed.


Grace picks up crucial late-season win

2/9/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team delivered a much-needed Crossroads League victory on Saturday, downing Saint Francis 75-57.

Four Lancers scored in double figures to propel Grace into a tie for second place in the league standings.

As a team, Grace turned the ball over a season-low four times, dishing out 18 assists on 28 made field goals.

Bruce Grimm Jr., the league leader in assists, led all players with 21 points, 9 assists and 0 turnovers.

The Lancers (19-8; 11-5 CL) exuded efficiency on offense in the first half. Grace made 50 percent of their field goals, tallied nine assists and recorded just one turnover.

The Cougars (17-11; 9-7 CL) kept themselves in contention by crashing the boards, snagging eight offensive rebounds before halftime.

Elliot Smith scored the final points of the half with a breakaway layup that just beat the halftime buzzer, lifting the Lancers to a 37-33 advantage.

An early 8-0 spurt sparked the Lancers in the second half, and the Cougars never fully recovered.

Grace’s defense held Saint Francis to 24 second-half points. They did not allow the Cougars to come closer than five points of Grace’s lead for the remainder of the game.

Saint Francis made one final charge to trim the Lancers’ lead to 61-54 with 4:47 to play.

But Smith dealt the crushing blow to the Cougars with back-to-back 3-pointers, effectively finishing the Cougars’ threat.

Smith buried 4-of-9 from beyond the arc for 18 points to go along with three assists and two steals.

Greg Miller connected on 6-of-8 from the floor for 14 points, and Karl Columbus tallied 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Tannan Peters recorded eight points on 4-of-5 shooting to go with his team-best six boards, and Dennis Williams notched 4 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot off the bench.

There are two regular-season games remaining as Grace will travel to archrival Bethel on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before hosting Taylor on Saturday at 3 p.m. Grace, Bethel and Taylor are deadlocked for second place in the Crossroads League, one game behind Indiana Wesleyan for first place.

Both the winner of the regular season and the league tournament champion receive automatic bids to the NAIA National Championships. Grace is hoping for its fifth NAIA Nationals trip in the past six years.


Late rally from Grace falls short

2/5/13

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Grace’s basketball team found itself trailing at Marian 59-51 with 3:20 to play before mounting a valiant comeback on Tuesday.

Their rally came up two points short, however, as a pair of potential game-tying shots misfired for the Lancers in the final 16 seconds in a 61-59 defeat.

Greg Miller led all scorers with 23 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes for the Lancers (18-8; 10-5 CL).

Although Marian was ahead for most of the contest, the Knights (15-10; 7-8 CL) were never up by more than eight points.

The Knights scored the first seven points of the game then saw their lead quickly vanish with Grace’s 10-2 run.

Marian, who only committed two first-half turnovers, maintained a small margin for the rest of the half. Grace cut that margin to 32-31 at halftime when Bruce Grimm Jr. found Jared Treadway with a layup in the final two seconds.

In the second half, the Knights continued to hold a slight advantage over the Lancers, claiming a 59-51 lead with three minutes remaining.

Miller then buried a deep 3-pointer to jumpstart Grace’s run. The Lancers’ defense allowed one basket from Marian over the next three possessions, and Grimm sliced Marian’s lead to 61-59 with a basket with 1:08 to play.

Grace forced the Knights into another missed shot on the next possession, allowing head coach Jim Kessler to call a timeout and set up a play to tie the game.

Miller received a pass in the paint and missed a shot under severe pressure with 16 seconds left.

Grace was forced to send Marian to the foul line where the Knights missed the front-end of a 1-and-1. Grimm then raced down the floor and attempted a driving shot, but his aim was just off the mark in the waning seconds as Marian held on to take down the 25th-ranked Lancers.

Miller’s 23 points came on 10-of-14 shooting, and Grimm finished with 13 points and four assists.

Grace (49 percent) shot a slightly higher percentage than Marian (47 percent) and held the Knights to 6-of-23 shooting from beyond the arc. But Marian, who leads the nation in turnover margin, was responsible for just seven turnovers.

With three games remaining in the regular season, the Lancers are one game out of first place in the Crossroads League. Grace will host Saint Francis on Saturday at 3 p.m. before playing league co-leaders Bethel and Taylor next week.


Grace falls to 25th in NAIA poll

2/5/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Grace's men's basketball team held onto a top-25 ranking from the NAIA when they received the No. 25 spot in the latest national poll.

The Lancers, coming off a 1-1 week, boast an 18-7 record and sit one game out of first place in the Crossroads League with a 10-4 league mark.

Grace has now appeared in 34 consecutive polls, which is the fourth-longest active streak in NAIA Division II.

The Lancers will travel to Marian on Tuesday night before hosting Saint Francis on Saturday.


Lancers pick up wire-to-wire victory

2/2/13

GOSHEN, Ind. – Greg Miller buried a 3-pointer to score the first points of the game on Saturday, and the Lancers never looked back.

No. 17 Grace moved to within one game of first place in the Crossroads League with an 81-76 victory at Goshen.

Miller finished with 16 points, Bruce Grimm Jr. scored a team-high 20, and Elliot Smith added 11 to pace the Lancers (18-7; 10-4 CL).

The Lancers held at least a two-possession lead for much of the first half before Goshen cut the gap to 36-33 just before the halftime break.

Miller was a dominant force with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and nine rebounds before halftime.

Three minutes into the second half, the Lancers started to assert themselves with a 14-4 run to go ahead 55-41 with 13:25 to play.

Grace maintained their double-digit advantage and led 75-57 before head coach Jim Kessler subbed out the team’s starters in the final minutes.

Goshen made a valiant charge at the end as they concluded the contest on a 19-6 run. The Maple Leafs cut Grace’s cushion down to five points by the time the final buzzer sounded as the Lancers made just 4-of-10 from the foul line in the final 1:09.

Grimm was the strongest offensive player for Grace in the second half with 11 points and three steals to his credit. Overall he finished with 20 points, 6 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds.

Miller recorded his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 boards. Smith knocked down 3-of-5 from beyond the arc for his 11 points, Karl Columbus scored eight points, and Tannan Peters added six points in 14 minutes off the bench.

As a team Grace nabbed 13 steals, which was one away from a season-best mark. They got to the free throw line 31 times, making 68 percent of their foul shots.

Goshen shot 54 percent from the floor in the second half, but the team’s 22 turnovers were hard to overcome.

The Lancers are one game out of first place in the Crossroads League standings with four games remaining. Grace will travel to Marian on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before hosting St. Francis on Saturday at 3 p.m.


Miller wins CoSIDA Academic All-District honors

2/1/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Junior Greg Miller was recognized for both his academic and athletic achievement when he was named CoSIDA Academic All-District.

CoSIDA honors student-athletes from the NAIA as well as NCAA Division I, II and III who have earned at least a 3.3 GPA. The members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) then vote through the district and national round of winners from eligible student-athletes.

Miller earned his first CoSIDA All-District award. He currently boasts a 3.60 GPA as a business administration and sport management major.

On the court Miller has put up averages of 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He reached 1,000 career points earlier this season and has been named the NAIA Player of the Week once and the Crossroads League Player of the Week four times.

The results for the national CoSIDA academic winners will be announced on Feb. 18.


Spring Arbor snaps Grace's four-game winning streak

1/29/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s 17th-ranked basketball team saw a four-game winning streak end on Tuesday when Spring Arbor upset the Lancers, 74-60.

A career-high 21 points from Karl Columbus was not enough to propel the Lancers past the Cougars in Crossroads League action.

Grace’s offense sputtered out of the gate as they fell behind 9-2 after four minutes of action.

After a timeout from Grace head coach Jim Kessler, the Lancers (17-7; 9-4 CL) rallied behind six points from Greg Miller to take a 13-12 lead three minutes later.

The score stayed close the rest of the first half. Spring Arbor went into the break with a 35-30 advantage thanks to shooting 63 percent from the field in the opening half.

Grace, on the other hand, struggled to 38-percent shooting.

The Cougars (16-9; 6-7 CL) maintained their advantage throughout the second half, eventually building up a double-digit lead with 9:01 to play.

Grace’s shooting woes continued after halftime as they failed to make a significant charge at Spring Arbor’s lead for the remainder of the contest.

The Lancers, who shot under 40 percent for the game, made just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc after halftime and 3-of-17 for the game (18 percent).

Spring Arbor sealed the upset by making eight free throws over the final 3:32.

Columbus was the strongest offensive force for Grace. After setting a career high with 17 points on Saturday against Huntington, Columbus bettered that mark on Tuesday with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He led all players with eight rebounds and nabbed three steals as well.

Bruce Grimm Jr. finished with 10 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Miller, who was named the NAIA Player of the Week earlier Tuesday afternoon, added nine points and seven rebounds.

Spring Arbor made 53 percent of their field goals for the game, including 4-of-5 from the 3-point line and 16-of-19 from the free throw stripe.

The Lancers will hope to start a new winning streak on Saturday when they travel to Goshen College for a 3 p.m. tipoff.


Lancers improve to No. 17 in NAIA poll

1/28/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After earning two more Crossroads League victories, Grace's men's basketball team was rewarded with the 17th spot on the NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Poll.

The Lancers picked up two crucial wins, including an 80-77 upset of then-No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan.

Grace went on the road Saturday to defeat Huntington 81-75.

Grace, who also boasts the current NAIA Player of the Week in Greg Miller, will host Spring Arbor on Tuesday evening before traveling to Goshen on Saturday at 3 p.m.

To view the complete NAIA poll, click here.


Miller garners NAIA, NCCAA, CL Player of the Week honors

1/28/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Greg Miller was named the outstanding national player this week with Player of the Week honors from the NAIA, NCCAA and Crossroads League.

Miller was the central figure behind a pair of Grace wins on the week, including the Lancers' 80-77 upset of No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan.

He recorded at least 23 points and 10 rebounds in each game, shooting 60.6 percent from the floor in the process. Miller's Crossroads League Player of the Week award is his fourth such honor this season, which is tops in the league.

Against IWU, Miller converted a crucial and-1 with 38 seconds remaining to break a 75-75 tie and give Grace the lead for good.

To view the NAIA's official release, click here.

Miller’s four CL Player of the Week honors leads the league. He and the 20th-ranked Lancers will host Spring Arbor on Tuesday at 7 p.m.


Lancers hold off late charge by Foresters

1/26/13

HUNTINGTON, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team pulled to within one game of the lead in the Crossroads League on Saturday thanks to their 81-75 victory over Huntington.

The Lancers picked up their fourth straight victory on the strength of 25 points from Greg Miller and a career-high 17 from Karl Columbus.

Grace’s win, coupled with a loss by Bethel, creates a logjam at the top of the league standings. The Lancers and Taylor are tied for third with a 9-3 league record just behind the 10-2 records of co-leaders Indiana Wesleyan and Bethel.

After a steady start to their game on Saturday, Grace’s offense blitzed the Foresters (12-12; 3-9 CL) to close out the first half.

The Lancers trailed 27-21 with 7:32 to play but kicked their offense into high gear after that point. Grace outscored Huntington 23-5 over the final seven minutes to claim a 44-32 lead at halftime.

Miller and Elliot Smith each buried a pair of 3-pointers during Grace’s run, and Columbus scored seven more to flip the game in Grace’s favor.

Grace, who shot 57 percent from the floor in the opening period, continued their marksmanship by making 15-of-30 in the second half.

The Lancers added another 10-0 flurry midway into the second half to open up their largest lead of the game at 64-45.

Huntington proved to be resilient, however. The Foresters made a trio of 3-pointers and nine free throws to fuel their comeback as they pulled to within three at 72-69 with 5:21 to play.

Bruce Grimm Jr. took matters into his own hands in the final minutes by scoring eight of Grace’s final nine points to stem Huntington’s momentum.

Miller’s game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds came on 11-of-17 shooting. Columbus’s 17 points also came with three steals.

Grimm finished with 10 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds, Smith added 11 points and three assists, and Tannan Peters chipped in with eight points in 10 minutes off the bench.

As a team Grace recorded 18 assists on 32 made field goals. They also held a 34-26 advantage in rebounding.

The Lancers will try for their fifth win in a row on Tuesday when they host Spring Arbor at 7 p.m.


Grace topples No. 3 IWU

1/22/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In an NAIA Top 25 showdown, No. 20 Grace upended No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan 80-77 on Tuesday night.

The Lancers, led by Greg Miller’s 23 points and 10 rebounds, snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Wildcats. Grace also moved to within two games of first place in the Crossroads League.

“I thought our guys showed some toughness tonight. We battled for 40 minutes against a great team and made plays when we needed to,” said Grace assistant coach Scott Moore. “This was about as good a team victory as we’ve had all season. Hopefully we can take this confidence and momentum into the Huntington game on Saturday.”

The Lancers (16-6; 8-3 CL) started the game with confidence, opening up a 12-4 lead after 3:30 of play.

The Wildcats (20-3; 9-2 CL) roared back, however, eventually claiming a 22-18 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers.

Freshman Brandon Vanderhegghen gave the Lancers a lift at that point with 3’s on consecutive possessions to steady Grace’s hand and put them ahead, 28-22.

The fast-paced first half saw each team make over 57 percent of their field goals as the Lancers took a 45-40 advantage into halftime.

Grace maintained their advantage for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but Indiana Wesleyan refused to fade.

The Wildcats regained the lead at 66-62 with less than nine minutes remaining. The Lancers responded, however, with five straight points to climb back on top.

Grace’s lead was razor-thin after that point as the score was tied four times in the final 5:04.

IWU thought they had momentum on their side late with back-to-back buckets to stake a 75-73 lead with 1:35 to play. But Grace ended the contest on a 7-2 run to seal the upset.

Bruce Grimm Jr.’s two free throws tied the game on Grace’s next possession. Miller then had the play of the game by muscling in a post move in the paint while getting fouled with 38 seconds left.

Miller’s and-1 put the Lancers clear by three at 78-75. A defensive stop on the Wildcats’ potential game-tying 3-pointer allowed Grimm and Elliot Smith to ice the win from the free throw line.

Miller’s 23 points came on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor. Grimm finished with 18 points and four assists, and Elliot Smith made 8-of-10 from the foul line for 17 points.

Vanderhegghen was a boost off the bench with nine points on 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Karl Columbus provided a steady hand with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, and freshman Caleb Featherston pulled down seven rebounds – four of which were offensive.

As a team Grace held a 34-27 advantage in rebounding thanks to 12 offensive boards.

Despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor in the second half, Grace made up for it by getting to the free throw line and making their shots. The Lancers made 16-of-21 foul shots after halftime.

The Lancers’ next task in the Crossroads League is a road contest at Huntington on Saturday at 3 p.m.


Grace bumps up to No. 20 in latest NAIA poll

1/22/12

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Grace's men's basketball team increased two spots to No. 20 in the sixth edition of the NAIA's Top 25 Coaches' Poll.

The Lancers won a pair of Crossroads League games against Marian in overtime on Tuesday and at Mount Vernon Nazarene on Saturday.

Grace's ranking extends their streak to 32 consecutive polls being ranked inside the NAIA's Top 25. The Lancers' streak is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.

Grace (15-6; 7-3 CL) will have its ranking tested immediately with a home game against No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday night. The Lancers will then travel to Huntington on Saturday at 3 p.m.


Second-half effort allows Grace to cruise by Mt. Vernon

1/19/13

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – It was a tale of two halves on Saturday as Grace’s men’s basketball team took down Mount Vernon Nazarene on the road, 67-48.

The Lancers took a five-point halftime advantage and blew the game open in the second half en route to a 19-point win.

The pace of the first half was much slower compared to what was to come. With the score knotted at 15-15 with less than six minutes remaining in the half, Grace grabbed the lead for good.

Bruce Grimm Jr. scored six points in a row for the Lancers (15-6; 7-3 Crossroads League) as Grace used an 8-1 run to gain separation from the Cougars.

Grace’s tremendous defense forced the Cougars (10-12; 2-8 CL) into shooting 18 percent from the field in the first half. The Lancers took a 23-18 lead into the break.

The contest remained close through the first four minutes of the second half. But Elliot Smith and Greg Miller fueled a 17-5 run for Grace that proved to be the game changer.

The Lancers continued their offensive assault, building up a lead as large as 25 points with 5:16 remaining to effectively end the game.

As a team Grace held a dominant plus-15 advantage in rebounds (49-34). The Lancers’ defense also held Mount Vernon to a 12-of-54 performance (22 percent) shooting the ball, including 1-of-16 from beyond the arc.

After a subpar offensive first half, Grace clicked at a high rate in the second half. The Lancers shot 15-of-25 (60 percent) from the floor after halftime.

Miller and Grimm tied for team scoring honors with 19 points apiece. Grimm also added 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.

Karl Columbus reached double figures for the fourth time this season with 10 points and five boards, and Smith added nine points and five rebounds.

Freshman Caleb Featherston pulled down six rebounds off the bench, and his classmate Brandon Vanderhegghen chipped in with four points and two assists.

The Lancers will take their two-game winning streak into Tuesday’s Top 25 showdown with No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.


Lancers win in overtime versus Marian

1/15/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace may not have played its best game of the season, but the 22nd-ranked Lancers found a way to win on Tuesday against Marian.

Greg Miller scored 22 points, and Bruce Grimm Jr. added 20 more as the Lancers pulled away in overtime to win 59-54.

The Lancers (14-6; 6-3 Crossroads League) started the game slowly, not scoring their first basket for nearly three minutes. But three minutes after Greg Miller’s opening basket, the Lancers had turned a 4-0 deficit into an 11-6 lead.

Grace’s defense had Marian in a stranglehold for much of the first half. Overall the Knights (12-7; 4-5 CL) made just 23.3 percent of their shot attempts before halftime and trailed Grace 27-19.

Two minutes into the second half, however, it was Grace’s turn to go cold on the offensive end. The Lancers led 33-23 with 17:56 to play. But Grace made only one field goal over the next 7:35 as Marian battled back to tie the score at 37-37.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Marian’s Nick Achille gave the Knights their largest lead of the game at 43-38 with less than nine minutes remaining.

Marian maintained a razor-thin lead down the stretch and were ahead 48-46 with 2:34 on the clock.

Miller received a pass from Grimm in the post and scored to knot the game at 48-48, and Marian misfired on a pair of 3-pointers on their possession to hand Grace the final shot of regulation.

Grimm dribbled into the lane and nearly banked in a jump shot at the buzzer, but it missed wide to send the game into an extra period.

Marian scored on their first two possessions of overtime to claim a four-point advantage. Grace then countered with a 9-0 run of their own to clinch the game.

Miller muscled his way to a pair of baskets in the paint, Dennis Williams converted a hoop for Grace, and Grimm stole a pass and raced the other way for a breakaway layup as the Lancers took the lead for good.

Lee Ross and Grimm iced the win with three free throws over the final 16 seconds.

Miller led all players in both points (22) and rebounds (10). He made 8-of-14 from the field to go along with a pair of 3-pointers.

Grimm’s 20 points came on 7-of-12 shooting. Grimm, the league leader in assists, handed out seven assists to go along with three steals.

Williams scored a season-best 10 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks, and Karl Columbus chipped in with four points and three rebounds.

The Lancers continue league play on Saturday when they travel to Mount Vernon Nazarene at 3 p.m.


NAIA drops Grace to No. 22

1/15/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After a difficult week for the Lancers, Grace's men's basketball team fell to No. 22 in the NAIA Division II Coaches' Poll.

Grace went 1-2 on the week, falling on the road to Saint Francis and at home to current-No. 16 Bethel. They did defeat Taylor on Tuesday to retain a record of 13-6 and 5-3 in the Crossroads League.

Grace's ranking extends their streak to 31 consecutive polls being ranked inside the NAIA's Top 25. The Lancers' streak is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.


Grace slips on the road, Miller scores 1,000th point

1/12/13

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team lost consecutive games for the first time all season with a 74-69 defeat at the hands of Saint Francis on Saturday.

Despite the loss, Grace's Greg Miller reached a personal milestone by scoring his 1,000th career point. He is only the 45th Lancer to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Grace currently has three 1,000-point scorers on their roster including Bruce Grimm Jr., and Elliot Smith.

The Lancers (13-6; 5-3 Crossroads League) forced the Cougars into 21 turnovers but were unable to come back from a 12-point deficit in the second half.

The Cougars (13-6; 5-3 CL) stayed in front for the first 10 minutes of action until seven straight points from Grace put them ahead 19-18.

The remainder of the half was a back-and-forth affair with five ties and nine lead changes. Grace took a slight 38-37 advantage into the break thanks to a last-second basket from Bruce Grimm Jr.

While Saint Francis struggled controlling the ball (10 turnovers) in the first half, they did not struggle with their shooting touch. The Cougars made 56 percent of their shot attempts.

Saint Francis scored the first hoop of the second half to reclaim the lead and never trailed again.

The Cougars tallied 11 unanswered points to go up 52-40, forcing a timeout from Grace.

The Lancers slowly clawed back into contention after that and closed the gap to 64-63 with 3:20 remaining on a 3-pointer from Brandon Vanderhegghen.

But Saint Francis scored on four of their next five possessions to effectively end Grace’s comeback.

Overall, Grace’s defense recorded 12 steals, but they allowed Saint Francis to make 55.3 percent from the field.

Grimm led all players with 21 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

Greg Miller added 11 points, and Vanderhegghen scored 11 off the bench in 19 productive minutes.

The Lancers will hope to return to their winning ways next week with a pair of league games. Grace will host Marian on Tuesday before concluding the week at Mount Vernon Nazarene on Saturday.


Grace unable to slow No. 21 Bethel in NAIA Game of the Week

1/10/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In the NAIA Game of the Week, Bethel’s offense proved to be too lethal as they won 98-88 over Grace in a shootout at the Orthopaedic Capital Center on Thursday night.

No. 12 Grace eclipsed their season average for points in the NAIA Top 25 showdown, but they failed to keep pace with No. 21 Bethel.

Grace opened the game on a strong note, scoring the first seven points after tip-off. The Lancers (13-5; 5-2 Crossroads League) continued their positive play and claimed their largest advantage of the game at 28-18.

Greg Miller was a dominant force in the opening portions of the contest with 11 points in less than seven minutes. The game shifted, however, when Miller picked up his second foul with 10:28 remaining in the half.

Bethel used Miller’s absence to go on a 16-1 run as the Lancers’ offense went cold. Overall Grace went 7:34 between field goals which allowed Bethel to grab a five-point lead.

Bruce Grimm Jr. did his best to keep Grace close as he notched the team’s final six points of the half. Regardless, the Pilots (16-3; 7-0 CL) entered halftime ahead 46-43 behind the strength of 63.3-percent shooting in the first half.

The Pilots scored 13 of the first 14 points of the second half to earn a commanding 59-44 lead. Overall Bethel went on a 19-1 run, spanning from the final two minutes of the first half into the first three minutes of the second half.

Bethel’s last point of their back-breaking run was a four-point play from Zach Miller.

Grace looked to regain its composure by trimming Bethel’s lead down to nine a few minutes later, but Bethel quickly sped away to claim a 17-point cushion.

The Lancers made a valiant attempt to come back over the final three minutes of play, but it proved to be too little, too late.

On two occasions, Grace managed to cut their deficit to eight points thanks to the 3-point shooting of Miller and Elliot Smith.

But Bethel clinched the game at the free throw line en route to their 10-point victory. The Pilots made 14 free throws over the final 4:14. Overall Bethel held a 37-22 advantage in free throw attempts.

Miller led all scorers with 28 points and eight rebounds. He made 10-of-18 from the field to go along with a trio of 3-pointers.

Grimm had a well-rounded game with 23 points, 5 assists and 3 steals.

Jordan Bowerman (24 points) and Ryan Benner (20 points) paced Bethel offensively. The Pilots claimed a 39-32 advantage in rebounding.

The Lancers handled the ball well with a season-low six turnovers. But despite taking 15 more field goal attempts than Bethel, Grace made 43 percent for the game compared to a sizzling 59 percent for the Pilots.

Grace will continue league play on Saturday with a road match at Saint Francis at 3 p.m.


Grace/Bethel named the NAIA Game of the Week

1/10/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One of the greatest rivalries in the country will continue its thrilling history tonight as the NAIA's Game of the Week, announced by the NAIA national office on Thursday morning.

No. 12 Grace College will host No. 21 Bethel College tonight at the Orthopaedic Capital Center at 7 p.m. for a game that has tremendous implications on the Crossroads League standings.

The Pilots currently sit atop the league with an unblemished 6-0 record. The Lancers (5-1) are one game behind entering tonight's contest.

Grace owns a four-game winning streak over Bethel, including last year's thrilling 100-97 2OT victory at the OCC.

The all-time series is remarkably tied after 118 games. Each team is 59-59 in the rivalry, which dates back to 1960.

Bethel and Grace boast high-powered offenses with each squad ranked in the top 30 in the country in points per game.

As a team, the Pilots rank third in the NAIA in 3-point field goal percentage (41.7 percent) with Zach Miller leading the team at 2.8 treys made per game.

The Lancers feature the leader in both rebounding (Greg Miller) and assists (Bruce Grimm Jr.) in the Crossroads League. Miller currently is No. 3 nationally with 10.2 rebounds per game, and Grimm’s 5.6 assists per game ranks 11th in the NAIA.

Follow the game tonight with live audio and live stats.


Second-half effort hands Grace crucial league win

1/8/13

UPLAND, Ind. – Grace’s strong second half produced a come-from-behind 71-60 win at Taylor University on Tuesday night.

The 12th-ranked Lancers (13-4; 5-1 CL) held the Trojans to 30 percent shooting in the second half to erase a 10-point deficit.

With the win, Grace remains one game behind rival Bethel College in the league standings. The Lancers will have a chance to grab a share of first place when they host No. 21 Bethel on Thursday at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.

In the first half on Tuesday, the Lancers scored the first nine points of the game to surprise the host Trojans (12-6; 4-2 CL).

Grace went scoreless for a six-minute stretch, however, to allow Taylor to claim a 27-19 lead late in the first half.

Grace was sloppy in possession of the basketball, committing eight of their 11 turnovers before halftime.

Bruce Grimm Jr., who was Grace’s main offensive force in the first half with 12 points, made a basket in the final seconds to pull the Lancers to within 32-28 at the break.

Greg Miller came up big in the second half for Grace. After tallying just three points in the first half, the reigning CL Player of the Week produced 13 points in the second half.

Taylor quickly asserted itself by grabbing a 10-point lead after halftime, but Grace turned the game on its head soon after with an outburst of their own.

The Lancers scored 16 unanswered points in a four-minute flurry to grab the lead for good.

The Trojans pulled to within two at 50-48 with 10:25 to play, but a free throw from Miller followed by a steal from Niko Read and quick pass to Grimm for a bucket gave Grace the breathing room it needed.

Grimm tied for scoring honors on the night with 21 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Miller added another double-double to the year with 16 points on a trio of 3-pointers and 13 boards. He now has nine double-doubles to his credit this season.

Jared Treadway also recorded a double-double, the first of his career, with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Karl Columbus was 4-of-7 from the floor for 10 points, and Elliot Smith chipped in with seven.

Overall, Grace held a 26-16 advantage in points in the paint. They also owned a plus-11 advantage in rebounding.


Grace ranked No. 12 in latest NAIA poll

1/8/13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Grace men's basketball team claimed the No. 12 spot in the NAIA's Top 25 Coaches' Poll, released Tuesday afternoon.

The Lancers, who have been ranked for the duration of the 2012-13 season, have a difficult slate of games this week.

Grace will travel to Upland, Ind., tonight for a 7 p.m. game at Taylor (receiving votes) before hosting bitter rival No. 21 Bethel on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Lancers will conclude the week on Saturday with a road contest at Saint Francis.

Grace has been ranked in the NAIA's Top 25 for 30 consecutive polls. Grace's streak is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.

Listen to all of Grace's games live on Stretch Internet. Click here to view action photos from the season.


Miller nabs third CL Player of Week

1/7/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Junior forward Greg Miller has continued his outstanding start to the 2012-13 season with his third Crossroads League Player of the Week award of the year.

The 6-foot-6 forward continued his consistent production by averaging a double-double in two Grace victories. Miller posted 18.0 points and 10.0 boards per game while hitting 15-of-27 from the field (55.6 percent).

In addition, he added 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Currently, Miller ranks No. 5 in NAIA Division II with eight double-doubles.

Entering the week, Miller ranks in the top 10 in the Crossroads League in points, field goal percentage, rebounds, blocks and double-doubles.

Miller won back-to-back CL Player of the Week awards in December.


Lancers share the wealth in dominant win

1/5/13

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Eleven players scored as No. 9 Grace played one of their most complete games of the season with 82-64 win against Goshen on Saturday.

The Lancers (12-4; 4-1 Crossroads League) shot a sizzling 57 percent from the field and placed four players in double-digit scoring.

The Maple Leafs (7-9; 0-5 CL), on the other hand, were held to 39 percent shooting on the day, including 4-of-17 from beyond the arc (24 percent).

Grace led from the get-go as Greg Miller scored the first points of the game 18 seconds after the tip-off.

Goshen was within striking distance behind 24-15 midway through the first half, but the Lancers exploded with a 25-6 run. When the dust had settled, Grace had earned its largest lead of the game at 49-21.

An unfortunate incident marred the end of the first half as a scuffle between the teams with 2.2 seconds remaining resulted in four players being ejected – one player from Grace and three from Goshen.

Grace maintained its 20-point cushion nearly the entire second half as the Lancers cruised down the stretch.

Overall, 13 players saw the court for the Lancers with all but two of those players making a field goal.

Grace held a plus-13 advantage in rebounding and nabbed 10 steals from the Maple Leafs.

Miller made 7-of-11 from the floor for a team-high 16 points. Freshman Brandon Vanderhegghen recorded the best game of his young career with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to go along with five boards.

Elliot Smith finished with 11 points and four assists, Bruce Grimm Jr. added seven points and six assists, and Karl Columbus tallied 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

Niko Read scored seven points in 15 minutes off the bench, and Kyle Fillman chipped in with six points and six boards.

With the win, the Lancers move into a three-way tie for second place in the Crossroads League. Grace will have a crucial week in the league standings, starting on Tuesday in a road game at Taylor University (4-1 CL).

The Lancers will then host rival Bethel College (5-0 CL) on Thursday at 7 p.m. before traveling to St. Francis (3-2 CL) on Saturday at 3 p.m.


Second-half effort allows Grace to hold off Spring Arbor

1/2/13

SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – No. 9 Grace erupted offensively in the second half to pick up a road win in the Crossroads League over Spring Arbor on Wednesday night.

The Lancers scored 42 points on 50 percent shooting after halftime to win 71-60 and improve to 11-4 on the season and 3-1 in league play.

Each team’s offense struggled to function at a high level in the first half as Grace took a 29-26 advantage into the break.

The Cougars (10-6; 0-4 CL) earned their only lead of the contest with 7:44 to play in the first half. But back-to-back buckets from Bruce Grimm Jr. handed the Lancers the lead for good less than three minutes later.

After hitting just 13-of-33 from the field in the first half, including 2-of-12 on 3-pointers, Grace found its shooting touch after the break.

Greg Miller and Elliot Smith, in particular, proved their marksmanship with improved shooting in the second half.

Miller, who had seven points on nine shots in the first half, bounced back with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the second half. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Smith, after struggling to a 1-of-5 performance in the first half, scored 11 of his 13 points after halftime. He made 3-of-4 from the field including his only 3-point attempt in the second half.

The Lancers built their cushion to as many as 12 points midway into the second half.

The Cougars refused to fade, however, and pulled to within seven. But each time Spring Arbor looked dangerous to pull off the upset, Grace provided a response on offense to hold on for an 11-point victory.

Grimm was the most consistent offensive presence Grace had on Wednesday. He led all players with 25 points to go along with 5 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds.

Jared Treadway, earning his fifth start of the season, produced five points and five rebounds.

Grace won the rebounding battle by five over Spring Arbor. They also held the Cougars to 2-of-11 from beyond the arc.

The NAIA’s ninth-ranked Lancers will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday when they host Goshen at 3 p.m. Listen to the game live here.


Lancers notch 10th win of season

12/21/12

AMHERST, N.Y. – Greg Miller scored the first points of the game on Friday against Wilfrid Laurier, and Grace never relinquished the lead the rest of the way.

The Lancers (10-4) topped 90 points for the second time this season in their 92-76 win over the Golden Hawks.

Grace led by as many as 12 points in the first half before settling for a 48-41 edge at the halftime break.

Elliot Smith’s strong shooting led Grace’s effort in the opening half by draining four 3-pointers on seven attempts for 16 points.

Grace’s offense was sizzling in the first 20 minutes of action as they made 57 percent of their field goals (20-of-35) to go along with a 5-for-10 performance from beyond the arc.

The Golden Hawks (3-12) quickly saw their deficit increase to double digits after halftime. Grace grew their cushion to as many as 19 points midway in the second half en route to a 16-point win.

Overall, Grace connected on over half of their shot attempts (52 percent). They also sank 18-of-21 from the free throw line.

Smith led Grace’s offense with 19 points and three steals, and Bruce Grimm Jr. added 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting as well as six steals.

Miller nearly tallied a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Jared Treadway made 5-of-10 from the field for 13 points.

Kyle Fillman and Karl Columbus each scored eight points for Grace.

The Lancers will enjoy a break for Christmas before resuming action on Jan. 2 at Crossroads League opponent Spring Arbor.


Lancers unable to slow Daemen in defeat

12/20/12

AMHERST, N.Y. – Grace’s men’s basketball team could not keep pace with the offense of Daemen College in an 88-81 shootout defeat on Thursday.

The NAIA Division II ninth-ranked Lancers (9-4) boasted a pair of players with at least 20 points, but Grace could only muster 10 points from their bench.

Bruce Grimm Jr. led all players with 27 points, and Greg Miller added 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Grace yielded its second-highest shooting percentage of the season as the Wildcats (13-4) made 49.2 percent of their field goals.

“Offensively, we were OK at best. We didn’t attack the paint second half which showed up in us not getting to the line once,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “At the defensive end, we were back on our heels all night. We couldn’t contain penetration or close out shooters.”

Daemen opened up a double-digit lead midway into the first half before Grace raced back into contention with 12 straight points.

The Wildcats recovered, however, to claim a 40-36 lead at the break.

Daemen regained their 10-point cushion a few minutes into the second half and managed to keep Grace at bay the rest of the contest.

Grace attempted to rally midway into the second half with a 10-2 run. They cut Daemen’s lead to 68-65 with 7:23 to play, but the Wildcats ended Grace’s threat with baskets on their next two possessions.

Overall, Daemen made 18-of-22 from the free throw line while Grace attempted just six free throws.

The Lancers were outscored 24-10 in bench points, but they did hold a 39-32 advantage in rebounding.

Grimm’s 27 points came with a trio of 3-pointers, six assists and four steals. Karl Columbus added 10 points, and Elliot Smith produced eight points and seven assists.

Grace will hope to bounce back tomorrow with a game against Wilfrid Laurier at 3 p.m.


Miller repeats as Crossroads League Player of Week

12/18/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Following an outstanding week of action, junior forward Greg Miller earned Player of the Week honors from the Crossroads League for the second consecutive week.

Miller played some of his best basketball of the season last week against a pair of NAIA Top 25 ranked teams.

Miller scored a career-high 27 points in a four-point win at No. 25 Madonna on Friday by making 10-of-14 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.

He followed that up with a 12-point, 16-rebound performance in a narrow loss to No. 22 Rochester.

For the week, Miller averaged 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game while shooting 56 percent from the field.


Read explodes with seven 3's in Grace win

12/17/12

BOSTON, Mass. – Sophomore guard Niko Read found his groove in a major way on Monday night, erupting with a career-high 25 points in Grace’s 88-55 win over Fisher College.

Read made 7-of-13 from beyond the arc in just 12 minutes of action to highlight Grace’s victory.

“Tonight was a breakout game for Niko. He was playing really well. This was very much a team effort for us. Many players contributed to this victory across the board,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “On a side note, tonight was the first time Grace has had five black players on the floor at the same time, which was a neat moment for the team.”

The offense for the Lancers (9-3) was clicking from tipoff as Grace jumped ahead 27-8 to start the game.

Grace led by as many as 28 points in the first half and eventually doubled up Fisher 44-22 at halftime.

Five minutes into the second half, Read caught fire. Read buried five 3-pointers in less than seven minutes to continue Grace’s momentum.

Thirteen Lancers played as Grace cruised to the final whistle in their 33-point victory.

“Our guys were fun to watch tonight. Our ball movement was terrific, and we got quality minutes from everyone,” said Grace assistant coach Scott Moore. “I thought we responded well from the Rochester game.”

Overall, Grace tallied an outstanding line of 29 assists on 36 made field goals. They committed just eight turnovers to go along with 14 steals.

Jared Treadway nearly posted a double-double with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Elliot Smith and Greg Miller scored 10 points apiece, and Karl Columbus added 6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

Brandon Vanderhegghen tallied 4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, Dennis Williams pulled down eight rebounds off the bench, and Lee Ross and Bruce Grimm Jr. each handed out five assists.

The Lancers continue play on Thursday with a matchup with Daemen College on Thursday and a contest with Wilfrid Laurier on Friday.


Offense cold in loss to No. 22 Rochester

12/15/12

LIVONIA, Mich. – Grace, playing its second straight NAIA Top 25 battle, struggled to find its offensive rhythm in a 68-60 defeat to No. 22 Rochester.

The ninth-ranked Lancers (8-3), who had taken down No. 25 Madonna the night before, shot just 29.5 percent from the floor against the Warriors on Saturday.

Grace jumped ahead 12-5 early in the game on the strength of two early 3-pointers from Elliot Smith.

Rochester climbed back into the contest, however, and claimed a 23-16 lead they would hold for the rest of the half.

Overall, the Warriors (13-3) made nearly half of their field goals in the first half, connecting on 13-of-27 from the floor. The Lancers, on the other hand, struggled to just 32 percent shooting.

In the second half, Grace did its best to cut into Rochester’s lead, but the Warriors had an answer for each of Grace’s runs.

Midway into the half, the Warriors buried back-to-back 3-pointers en route to their largest lead of the game at 52-38.

Grace countered with 12 straight points, including five from Greg Miller, to cut the deficit to two.

The Lancers did their best to keep their hopes alive by dominating the offensive glass with 17 offensive rebounds. But their second-chance efforts weren’t enough to close the gap.

Grace, who shot 29.5 percent from the floor, made only five of their 23 attempts from beyond the arc.

Miller posted his second double-double in as many days with 12 points and 16 rebounds, and Bruce Grimm Jr. added 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Dennis Williams contributed nine points in 13 minutes off the bench, and Kyle Fillman made 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.

After the tournament's conclusion, Miller was named to the All-Classic Team.

The Lancers will continue on the road with an away game at Fisher College (Mass.) on Monday.


Grace takes down No. 25 Madonna on the road

12/14/12

LIVONIA, Mich. – Greg Miller poured in a career-high 27 points to lead No. 9 Grace to an 80-76 victory over No. 25 Madonna.

The Lancers (8-2) will take on their second ranked opponent in as many days tomorrow when they face No. 22 Rochester in the second day of the Hines Park Crusader Classic.

The first half between Grace and Madonna was tightly contested as the score was tied nine times.

The Crusaders (8-5) grabbed their largest lead of the game in the first half with a 25-19 advantage. But the Lancers erased the deficit as back-to-back 3-pointers from Miller and Elliot Smith capped off an 8-0 run to give Grace the lead.

Madonna took a 38-37 lead into the halftime break, but the Crusaders would not lead again after Miller’s basket 17 seconds into the second half.

Grace’s defense put the clamps down shortly after as they did not allow Madonna to make a field goal for nearly seven minutes of action. As a result, Grace opened up a 55-46 lead.

The Lancers maintained their cushion for the duration of the game as Madonna would not come closer than four points.

Miller led all players with his 27 points, which he tallied on 10-of-14 shooting with a trio of 3-pointers. He also added 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks.

Bruce Grimm Jr. scored 19 points with three assists, and Smith passed out seven assists to go along with 10 points.

Lee Ross, earning his first start of the season, responded with a season-high eight points, Karl Columbus added six points and six rebounds, and Dennis Williams and Kyle Fillman each pulled down five boards off the bench.

The Lancers’ game tomorrow against No. 25 Rochester will tip off at 1 p.m. Listen to the game live here.


Lancers climb to No. 9 in NAIA

12/12/12

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Grace's men's basketball team moved up one spot to No. 9 in the latest edition of the NAIA Top 25 Poll.

The Lancers (7-2) are about to embark on their longest streak of games played away from the Orthopaedic Capital Center this season with six straight games on the road.

Grace will face a stiff challenge this weekend in a tournament that pits them against No. 25 Madonna (7-4) on Friday and No. 22 Rochester (11-3) on Saturday. Listen to both games live here.


Miller tabbed as Crossroads League Player of the Week

12/11/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Junior forward Greg Miller was named the Crossroads League Player of the Week for the NAIA's 10th-ranked Grace Lancers.

For the week, Miller averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds per game in a pair of Grace wins. He shot 57 percent from the floor, including a remarkable 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Defensively, Miller added 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.

Miller currently ranks No. 6 in NAIA Division II in rebounds per game (10.0 rpg). His four double-doubles this year is second in the league as well.

The Lancers face a challenging tournament this weekend as they play Madonna on Friday and Rochester on Saturday. Listen to both games live here.


Lancers overcome Trolls in Habitat for Humanity Classic

12/8/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Four Lancers scored in double figures in Grace’s 75-65 victory over Trinity Christian on Saturday in the Habitat for Humanity Classic.

The NAIA's 10th-ranked Lancers (7-2) made 46 percent of their field goals while holding Trinity Christian to 34 percent shooting in a strong showing.

Grace jumped ahead 8-2 out of the gate. They allowed Trinity Christian to score 11 of the next 13 points, however, as the Trolls (3-9) took a 13-10 lead.

Greg Miller converted an and-1 opportunity on Grace’s next possession to tie the game, and Trinity Christian never tasted the lead again.

The Lancers held the Trolls scoreless for a 5-minute period midway into the first half, stretching their lead to double figures.

Grace entered halftime ahead 42-30 thanks in large part to committing just two first-half turnovers.

The lead for Grace gradually worked its way up to 19 points with five minutes remaining before the Lancers coasted for the final few minutes of regulation.

Bruce Grimm Jr. highlighted Grace’s offense with 22 points and eight assists, including a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.

Miller earned his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Elliot Smith, who eclipsed 1,000 career points on Friday night, sank all three of his 3-point attempts for 14 points, and Tannan Peters posted season-bests of 14 points and eight boards.

Overall, Grace outrebounded Trinity Christian by seven.

The Lancers will travel to Detroit, Mich., next weekend to play a pair of games. Grace will take on the host Madonna on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before facing Rochester on Saturday at 1 p.m.


Smith nets 1,000th point as Grace cruises to win

12/7/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Senior marksman Elliot Smith joined Grace’s 1,000-point club in the perfect fashion – from beyond the arc.

Smith’s first-half triple from the left wing made him the 44th Lancer to reach 1,000 career points as Grace pulled away for an 84-69 win over Wilberforce on Friday night in the Habitat for Humanity Classic.

The Lancers (6-2) led by as many as 35 points in the second half before coasting to their final 15-point margin of victory.

Grace scored the first seven points of the game as they held the Bulldogs (4-8) scoreless for nearly four minutes after tip-off.

Wilberforce battled back to come within 22-18 before a 13-2 run by Grace broke the game open.

Smith, who entered Friday’s contest with 995 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 4:50 remaining in the first half and then eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with another trey less than two minutes later.

Smith has made a remarkable 48 percent of his 3-point attempts this year (24-of-50).

Shortly into the second half, the Lancers put the game out of reach with 16 unanswered points over a four-minute span. Grace hit four 3-pointers during their run as Caleb Featherston, Greg Miller, Smith and Brandon Vanderhegghen each buried a triple.

Grace pulled its starters midway into the second half, which allowed Wilberforce to whittle down Grace’s lead, but their effort was too little, too late.

Miller led Grace in scoring with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including a 4-of-5 performance from beyond the arc.

Bruce Grimm Jr., the Crossroads League leader in assists, narrowly missed a double-double with 16 points and nine assists, and Smith made three treys for nine points.

Vanderhegghen, Kyle Fillman and Adrian Makolli each added six points off the bench.

Overall, Grace made 49 percent of their field goals as they tallied an assist on 24 of their 32 made buckets.

The Lancers will conclude the Habitat for Humanity Classic on Saturday against Trinity Christian at 3 p.m.


Late free throws clinch Lancer victory

12/1/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s basketball team executed late to pull away with a pulse-pounding 89-88 victory over Huntington on Saturday.

The Lancers’ clutch shooting included five made free throws over the final 25 seconds to erase a late deficit against Huntington.

When Grace and Huntington faced off last year, both games were decided by four or fewer points. Saturday’s game followed that trend with a classic Crossroads League battle.

Huntington opened up the game on a 7-0 spurt before the game settled into its rhythm. Overall, the game included 12 ties and 27 lead changes.

The Foresters (4-5; 1-2 CL) went into the break ahead 41-37, but they would not hold a lead of greater than four points for the rest of the game.

Late in the game, the Foresters used a quick 5-0 run to claim an 81-78 lead with less than three minutes remaining, but freshman Caleb Featherston drilled a 3-pointer on the next possession to tie the game.

Huntington grabbed a two-point lead before Grimm scored to knot the game at 84-84. The Foresters were fouled on their next possession and made 1-of-2 from the line to take a one-point lead with 47 seconds remaining.

After Grimm was fouled on Grace’s end of the floor, he handed Grace an 86-85 lead with a pair of gutsy free throws with 25 seconds left.

Huntington was then whistled for traveling on its next possession and was forced to foul Lee Ross, who calmly sank both free throws with under seven seconds on the clock.

Grace then initiated a full-court press after the made free throw, which rattled the Foresters into a turnover. Huntington sent Featherston to the free throw line, and his 1-of-2 performance from the charity stripe allowed the Lancers (5-2; 2-1 CL) to surrender a meaningless last-second 3-pointer from Huntington in Grace’s win.

Grimm led all players with 31 points on 11-of-20 shooting, and Elliot Smith buried 4-of-6 from the 3-point line for 17 points.

Greg Miller totaled 12 points and eight boards, and Featherston added 10 points off the bench.

The Lancers will host the Habitat for Humanity Tournament next weekend at the Orthopaedic Capital Center. Grace will play Wilberforce on Friday and Trinity Christian on Saturday.


No. 5 IWU tops Grace in Top 10 showdown

11/27/12

MARION, Ind. – In a tough, gritty clash between a pair of teams ranked in the NAIA Top 10, No. 10 Grace struggled on the offensive end in a 66-56 loss to No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan.

The Lancers (4-2; 1-1 Crossroads League) committed 19 turnovers and shot just 36 percent from the field in defeat.

Grace fell behind early before scoring eight straight points to take a 16-13 lead.

Neither team shot particularly well in the first half as both squads were less than 39 percent from the field and less than 15 percent from the 3-throw line, but it was the Wildcats (8-1; 2-0 CL) who took a small advantage into halftime, leading 32-28.

Bruce Grimm Jr. paced Grace’s offense in the first half with 12 points and two assists.

Grace quickly evened the score with the first four points of the second half before the Wildcats responded with seven unanswered to open up a seven-point edge.

The back-and-forth affair continued as the Lancers scored seven in a row knot the score at 39 apiece.

Grace could only manage three points over the next five minutes of play as Indiana Wesleyan took the lead for good.

A 3-pointer from Elliot Smith cut IWU’s lead to 50-48 with 5:38 to play, but the Wildcats won the game from the free throw line. Indiana Wesleyan made 11 free throws over the final 4:14 of play to pull away for their final 10-point win.

Grimm led all players with 22 points, including a 9-of-12 performance from the free throw line. Smith scored 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers, and Greg Miller tallied nine points and 11 rebounds.

Overall, Grace made only 18 of their 50 field goal attempts, including just 3-of-18 (17 percent) from the 3-point line.

The Lancers will look to bounce back on Saturday with a home game against league opponent Huntington University at 3 p.m.


Lancers blow past Mount Vernon

11/20/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – No. 8 Grace opened up the Crossroads League season with a 78-51 dismantling of Mount Vernon Nazarene on Tuesday.

The Lancers (4-1; 1-0 CL) featured balance production as 13 Grace players scored in a decisive victory.

Grace cruised to an early lead by scoring the first nine points of the game. Mount Vernon countered with a 17-4 run of their own to take a 17-13 lead before the Lancers took over.

The Lancers scored 13 unanswered points over a two-minute span, seven of which were scored by Bruce Grimm Jr. Overall, Grace ended the first half on a 26-6 run and entered the halftime break with a 39-23 advantage.

The Cougars hurt their own cause with 12 first-half turnovers compared to six for the Lancers.

Grace continued their strong play with eight straight points to start the second half to lead 47-23. They maintained a 20-point cushion over the Cougars the rest of the way.

The defense of the Lancers held the Cougars to 31 percent shooting for the game. Grace also earned a plus-17 advantage in rebounds while making 9-of-11 (82 percent) from the free throw line.

Fifteen players saw the court for the Lancers as three players reached double-digit scoring.

Greg Miller had a well-rounded performance with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals, and Grimm added 12 points and seven assists with just one turnover.

Karl Columbus led all players with 11 rebounds, and post players Jared Treadway (10 points) and Adrian Makolli (eight points) had solid production off the bench.

The Lancers resume Crossroads League action on Nov. 27 when they travel to rival No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan for a Top-10 showdown with the Wildcats.


Grace upsets No. 4 Robert Morris in barnburner

11/17/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team executed late to take down NAIA Division I No. 4 Robert Morris (Ill.) 93-89 on Saturday in the KCCCF Optimist Classic.

Tannan Peters and Bruce Grimm Jr. produced timely shots as two free throws from Lee Ross iced the shootout in Grace’s favor.

Neither team could be slowed down on the offensive end in the first half as the sides combined for 86 first-half points.

Robert Morris maintained a small lead for much of the first period and led 41-35 with two minutes remaining. But Grimm, Elliot Smith and Greg Miller ended the half with 10 straight points for Grace to give the Lancers (3-1) a four-point cushion at the break.

The second half featured eight ties and eight lead changes. A 7-0 spurt from the Lancers gave Grace a lead with eight minutes to play, and they managed to hold onto their advantage until the final two minutes.

The Eagles (2-4) went on a 9-2 run to go ahead 86-85 with 1:46 remaining, but the Lancers countered with a basket from Peters on their next possession.

Robert Morris tied the game with a single free throw, and Grimm sank two free throws on the other end of the court as Grace led 89-87.

The Eagles tied the score again with a layup with less than 30 seconds remaining, and Grace hustled down the court where Grimm made a short pull-up jumper with 17 seconds left on the clock.

Robert Morris’s Larry Dumas, who scored 43 points in defeat, missed a contested 3-pointer with five seconds to play, and Ross was fouled for the Lancers. He calmly sank both free throw attempts to seal the upset.

Four players reached double-digit scoring for Grace, including a 28-point, 11-assist performance from Grimm.

Miller just missed his fourth double-double of the season with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals, and Smith made 3-of-5 from beyond the arc for 17 points.

Peters tallied 11 points and three assists, and Ross had six points and five boards off the bench.

Overall, Grace connected on 55 percent of their shots, including 59 percent (13-of-22) in the second half. They tallied 18 assists on 28 made field goals.

The Lancers will kick off the Crossroads League season on Tuesday with a home game against Mount Vernon Nazarene at 7 p.m.


Fillman, Grimm step up late for Grace

11/16/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace found itself struggling to put Missouri Baptist away for good on Friday night in the KCCCF Optimist Classic.

But Bruce Grimm Jr. and Kyle Fillman transformed into a two-man wrecking crew, leading the Lancers (2-1) down the stretch for an 86-74 win.

Grimm and Fillman combined for 21 of Grace’s final 25 points in the second half to pull away from Missouri Baptist late.

The first half of action was a back-and-forth affair that included four ties and 10 lead changes. With the Spartans (2-4) leading 21-20, Grace opened up the game with 13 straight points sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from Elliot Smith.

Missouri Baptist rallied back to cut Grace’s lead to two points in the final minute, but Bruce Grimm Jr. made a driving shot in the waning seconds to give the Lancers a 37-33 lead at the break.

Grace quickly established control after halftime as a basket from Greg Miller gave the Lancers a 54-39 lead with 14:28 to play.

The Spartans began to chip away at Grace’s lead until the Lancers found themselves leading by just two at 61-59.

Grimm and Fillman took over after that point, however. Grimm jumpstarted the Lancers with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and he and Fillman accounted for 21 points over the final 7:14 of regulation.

Fillman scored 11 of his 13 points during that period as he made 5-of-6 from the field to go along with six rebounds.

Grimm led all players with 20 points to go along with a career-high 11 assists as well as six steals.

Greg Miller recorded his third double-double in as many games with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Smith drained four 3-pointers en route to his 14-point, 4-assist performance, and freshman Caleb Featherston added nine points and three assists.

Overall, Grace made 53 percent of their shot attempts and tallied 22 assists on just eight turnovers. The Lancers were particularly efficient in the second half as they hit 17-of-26 (65 percent) from the field.

Grace will conclude the KCCCF Optimist Classic at 4 p.m. Saturday with a match-up against NAIA Division I No. 4 Robert Morris (Ill.).


Men's/Women's Basketball to host challenging tournament

11/12/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace's men's and women's basketball teams will be hosting a talent-filled tournament this weekend at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.

The annual KCCCF Optimist Classic will kick off on Friday with four games followed by four more games on Saturday.

Admission to watch the games is $5 per day, and all proceeds will go directly to Kosciusko County Cancer Care Fund (KCCCF).

Four teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 Poll will put their talents to the test this weekend, including the eighth-ranked Grace men’s basketball squad.

The women’s tournament is a classic format with Indiana Wesleyan and Union playing Friday at 2 p.m. and Grace and Rochester playing Friday at 6 p.m. Grace will then square off with No. 24 Union on Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Indiana Wesleyan-Rochester game will precede that at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The men’s team will host a pair of NAIA Division I schools starting with Missouri Baptist on Friday at 8 p.m. The Lancers will then face off with No. 4 Robert Morris (Ill.) on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The two non-Grace men’s games include Huntington versus Robert Morris at 4 p.m. on Friday and Huntington versus Missouri Baptist on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Follow along with live audio and live stats for the games on Grace’s athletic site: www.grace.edu/athletics.


Lancers fade in overtime against St. Catharine

11/10/12

ST. CATHARINE, Ky. – No. 8 Grace suffered its first defeat of the season in overtime on Saturday, falling 81-73 on the road to St. Catharine.

The Lancers (1-1) were held scoreless in the extra period, going 0-for-9 from the field and missing all six of their 3-pointers in overtime.

The Patriots (1-1), on the other hand, made 3-of-5 shots from the field and outrebounded Grace 9-3 after regulation.

Grace’s offense sputtered at the beginning of the game as they fell behind 13-1 after five minutes of play.

The Lancers battled back and tied the game at 25-25 before faltering to end the half. St. Catharine drilled five 3-pointers in the final six minutes of the first half and opened up a 42-29 lead at the break.

Grace immediately went to work on their deficit in the second half with an 18-5 run. A pair of 3-pointers from Tannan Peters and two free throws from Caleb Featherston eventually tied the game at 47-47 with 15:19 to play.

St. Catharine regained the lead on the next possession and took a seven-point lead with 6:32 remaining. Grace charged back into contention and tied the score at 69 apiece.

The teams traded buckets over the final three minutes until the Patriots claimed a 73-71 lead with less than two minutes left.

Elliot Smith then tied the game for Grace with a basket with 1:11 left for the final basket in regulation.

Grace’s offense in overtime went ice-cold as they failed to make a shot attempt in nine tries to allow the Patriots to ease away for an eight-point win.

Smith led Grace’s offense with 20 points, including five made 3-pointers to go along with five steals. Greg Miller tallied a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Bruce Grimm Jr. added 17 points and five assists.

Peters reached double figures with 11 points, and freshman Kyle Fillman chipped in six points and six rebounds off the bench.

The Lancers will resume action next weekend for their annual KCCCF Optimist Classic at the Orthopaedic Capital Center. Grace will play Missouri Baptist on Friday at 8 p.m. before facing NAIA Division I No. 4 Robert Morris on Saturday at 4 p.m.


No. 8 Grace muscles past Northland International

11/3/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace was fully in control from the tip-off in their 2012 season opener as they cruised to an 82-41 victory over Northland International.

The Lancers (1-0), who are ranked No. 8 in the NAIA Top 25 Preseason Poll, put on a defensive clinic in the first half against the Pioneers (1-1).

Grace kicked off their season with a 29-3 run to start Saturday’s game. The Lancers’ defense proved nearly impenetrable as Northland International had just five points to their credit with two minutes remaining in the first half.

The Lancers forced 14 turnovers and held the Pioneers to 4-of-28 shooting from the field (14 percent) in the first half.

On the other end of the court, Grace hit 16-of-32 of field goal attempts (50 percent). They recorded an assist on 14 of their 16 made field goals.

Grace led 40-11 at the break and eventually led by over 40 points. The Lancers substituted frequently in the second half as 18 players saw time for Grace, and 11 Lancers scored.

Greg Miller led all players with a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. He drained 7-of-11 from the field with a trio of 3-pointers made.

Freshman Kyle Fillman was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in his first collegiate game. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes of action off the bench.

Bruce Grimm dished out a game-high seven assists to go along with five points and two steals, and Elliot Smith scored eight points.

Jared Treadway tallied seven points and four boards, and Brandon Vanderhegghen and Jacob Goodman each drilled a pair of 3-pointers off the bench.

Overall, Grace outrebounded Northland International by 22.

The Lancers will return to action on Nov. 10 for an away game at St. Catharine (Ky.).


Grace looking to fit pieces together for successful run

10/28/12

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team enters the 2012-13 campaign with high expectations along with several question marks.

The NAIA Top 25 Preseason Poll has the Lancers ranked at No. 8 to kick off the season as a result of their tremendous success in recent years. Grace has made four trips in five years to the NAIA National Championships.

The Lancers finished last season with a 24-8 record, earning a share of the Crossroads League regular-season title as well as winning the postseason league tournament.

But Grace will have to replace the loss of Second Team All-League performer Duke Johnson and two other starting players who graduated last spring (Jacob Peattie, Dayton Merrell).

Head coach Jim Kessler has a plethora of talented options at his fingertips this season. The issue may be figuring out which combination to use.

“We have a lot of different pieces this year – as much as any other year,” Kessler said. “This team is more like chess. Which team do I play now? Do I play a knight or bishop? Some years we know exactly what we’ll do before the year. This year, we have great potential. If everybody does their business, this could be a really good team.”

Leading Grace’s returning players are a trio of senior guards. Bruce Grimm Jr. highlights that group as the leading scorer last year. Grimm’s 18.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game earned honorable mention status for NAIA All-American to go along with First Team All-League honors.

Elliot Smith (8.8 ppg) and Lee Ross will provide steady ball handling, perimeter shooting and tenacious defense in Grace’s backcourt.

Grace’s offense will rely on significant guard production and figures to be a more athletic, fluid attack than in previous years.

“We’ll probably be a little more perimeter-oriented than we have in some years,” Kessler explained. “We need to shoot it well, but we still want to have a post presence. The last several years, we dominated in the lane. Those players are still unproven at this point, but they will develop over time.”

One important piece to balance Grace’s attack is junior Greg Miller. The 6-foot-6 forward is a versatile player who has the ability to stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting or collect points from the low post.

Miller will be joined up front by senior Tannan Peters (51 percent field goals), junior Dennis Williams (56 percent), junior Jared Treadway and sophomore 7-foot-1 center Adrian Makolli.

Other key contributors include Karl Columbus and Niko Read, who both had strong seasons during their freshman campaigns, as well as a number of freshmen.

One freshman who has impressed in early workouts is Norwell High School’s Kyle Fillman. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 13 rebounds per game during his senior season and has been one of Grace’s top rebounders in preseason work.

Caleb Featherston is a 6-foot-3 guard with “loads of upside at the small forward position,” according to Kessler. Brandon Vanderhegghen comes to Grace from a quality Mishawaka High School program and is a fundamentally sound player who can play either the shooting guard or small forward positions.

The Lancers must navigate their way through a stiff nonleague schedule before facing the rigors of the Crossroads League season. The CL placed three teams (No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan, No. 21 Spring Arbor) in the national preseason poll with one other team (St. Francis) receiving votes.

“We won’t start out as good as we can be. We won’t peak early. It’ll be a journey with a long season. We can’t get too high or too low or that’d be a mistake,” Kessler said. “Our goal is to steadily improve so by the time it’s February, we are in the top of the league. I would strongly suspect that we will be a better team in January, February than in November, December.”

Grace kicks off its season with a homecoming game on Nov. 3. The Lancers will welcome Northland International to the Orthopaedic Capital Center for a 3 p.m. tipoff.