GREENVILLE, S.C. – Dayton Merrell has been selected to receive the Inaugural NCCAA Game Plan 4 LIFE (GP4L) Character Award for men’s athletics. Merrell, a junior math major from Fort Wayne, Ind, is a respected leader on the team, on the campus and beyond the campus community.
The purpose of the Game Plan 4 LIFE Character Award is to recognize NCCAA student-athletes who epitomize the Christian character qualities of love, integrity, faith and excellence.
He fulfilled each of the four character qualities of the GP4L character award as follows:
LOVE: He serves others rather than himself and practices the Golden Rule as a servant leader to his team. The team policy is that rookies carry equipment off the bus, yet Merrell is the first to grab a piece of team gear and carry it into the building. He supported and encouraged his sister during a family crisis, reaching out to her with true love. Merrell’s love for his schoolmates and their salvation drives him to express his faith and challenge them to be saved.
INTEGRITY: Merrell is defined by Grace College’s coach Jim Kessler as “a man of complete integrity and is trustworthy in all that he does and says.” He will take a stand for what is right even when it is unpopular. The integrity that is lived out in his everyday life defines Dayton as a leader on campus and is respected and followed by his peers on and off the court. His integrity is displayed in humility as he is quick to give credit to those deserving and to not just accept accolades for himself.
FAITH: Merrell’s faith is lived so that others see it, even opposing teams. Greg Tonagel, coach of the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s basketball team, says, “Dayton has a passion for Jesus Christ and is excited to share that with others. He tells you that the backbone of his life is his faith in Christ.” Missions trips and outreach have been a large part of Merrell’s life, sharing Christ through his gift of basketball. He has served as a spiritual mentor to others through the Orlando Project. Dr. Mark Soto, Professor of Theological Studies at Grace College, stated, “[Dayton’s] life is not one of casual Christianity but rather one of intentional pursuit of Christ in all his classes, his sport, and his relationships.”
EXCELLENCE: Merrell has experienced persistent back problems but has pushed through with intensity and excellence that goes beyond his physical abilities. Whether in the classroom, where he carries a 3.3 accumulative GPA, or on the court, where he has received numerous athletic accolades, or in ministry, where he was selected as team leader of the Orlando Project, Merrell strives for and serves with excellence in every aspect of his life. His work ethic not only pushes him to improve daily, it encourages his teammates and those around him to improve as well.
Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., the NCCAA strives to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ through its 22 National Championships and 3 National Invitationals. For more information on the NCCAA, contact the NCCAA National Office at (864) 250-1199 or visit www.thenccaa.org.
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – A shooting drought in the second half doomed Grace’s hopes of a deep tournament run at the NAIA Division II men’s basketball tournament on Thursday evening.
The Lancers (22-11) shot 30 percent in the second period compared to 50 percent for Dakota Wesleyan and slipped in the first round, 71-62.
Grace only turned the ball over six times, a season low, but the Lancers’ poor shooting combined with getting outscored 26-4 off the bench led to their defeat.
“We didn’t turn it over, so that’s a good thing, but you have to make shots,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “Our bench is usually strong, but we got oustscored significantly.”
Both teams started the game sluggish, and Grace didn’t get on the board until four minutes into the contest. David Henry kept the Lancers (22-11) in the game and nailed two early threes, but Grace still found themselves down 23-15 with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Duke Johnson and Bruce Grimm Jr., however, scored Grace’s next 11 points and pioneered a 15-0 run to help the Lancers earn their first lead of the game and take a 30-23 advantage. The Lancers held a 35-32 lead at the break.
In the second period, Grace surrendered their lead in the first five minutes of the half, and the Tigers (24-8) mounted a 20-6 run to run away with the game. Henry scored seven points in a row in the final minute of the game including an impressive four-point play, but Grace’s comeback efforts came too late in the contest.
“We started both halves slow,” Kessler continued. “They had people who hit shots that we were not expecting to hit shots. We just didn’t make shots.”
Greg Miller led Grace’s scoring with 16 points on 7 of 15 shooting, Johnson tallied 15, Henry totaled 13 and Elliot Smith chipped in 10. Johnson also grabbed 10 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the year, Grimm totaled 10 assists with no turnovers, and Miller grabbed seven boards.
The game concludes Grace’s 2010-11 campaign where they qualified for their third NAIA tournament in four years and finished second in the MCC regular season standings.
It also marks the end of seniors Dave Henry and Steve Kaufman’s four-year careers with the Lancers. Henry and Kaufman played in three NAIA national tournaments, arguably the best era of Lancer basketball, and competed in four national tournaments overall.
Click here to check out and download photos from Grace's opening round game against Dakota Wesleyan.
BRANSON, Mo. – The Grace men's basketball team is set to start its quest to claim Grace's second NAIA National Championship on the campus of the College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, Mo.).
The Lancers play their first-round game on Thursday at 5:45 CST against Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.). Choose one of the following options to follow Grace's game live:
For more in-depth reports and photographs, visit the Lancer Athletic Blog (The LAB), featuring daily updates, player interviews, game highlights, and pictures of the team in practice and around Branson.
Photographs of the 2011 NCCAA Parade of Champions:
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – For the third time in four years, Grace's men's basketball team will be playing for an NAIA championship in Branson, Mo.
The Lancers made the 32-team tournament as the No. 15 seed and as the sixth at-large bid. It will be their fifth NAIA Division II national appearance. The Lancers' national tournament record stands at 8-3 all-time, including a national championship in 1992. In their last appearance in 2009, the Lancers made it to the quarterfinal round.
During the 2010-11 regular season, the Lancers finished with a 22-10 record, good for second in the MCC. In the MCC tournament, they defeated Taylor University before falling to Saint Francis University in the semifinal round.
Grace will play Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) in the first round at 5:45 CST on Thursday, March 10. Dakota Wesleyan has a 23-8 record and received the seventh at-large bid. This will be the Tigers' fifth consecutive national tournament appearance, but they have gone 1-5 over that span.
The Lancers survived a tough schedule this season, with five of the Lancers' losses coming against teams in the national championship tournament. Senior David Henry says this has prepared them well for a tournament run. "Being there before, I see that our conference is as good as any other. We can compete against the top teams if we take one game at a time."
Should the Lancers win, they will most likely face No. 2 Northwood University (Fla.) who takes on Fisher College (Mass.). But head coach Jim Kessler says his team is ready for the challenge. "I'm proud of what our men have done this year. We know what we have to do to win, and we will make the best team effort we can."
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Despite a 13-point second half performance off the bench for Jake Peattie, Grace couldn’t complete their comeback against third-seeded University of Saint Francis on Saturday.
The Cougars (23-9) defeated second-seeded Grace 67-60 in the semifinals of the MCC tournament, eliminating the Lancers (22-10) from postseason play and forcing them to depend on an at-large bid for the NAIA national tournament.
"We are still getting better as a team," said head coach Jim Kessler. "We have some things to heal up. We need to get a lot of shots in because we've struggled from the floor the last couple of games. But now, we are at the mercy of the raters."
No. 14 Grace fell behind 11-10 at the beginning of the game, the Cougars’ first lead of the contest, and couldn’t overcome No. 16 Saint Francis’ advantage the remainder of the showdown.
"We gave up offensive rebounds when we couldn't, and they made some big shots," Kessler said. "There were a number of times when we just couldn't get a break."
The Lancers’ deficit increased to 12 points (35-23), the Cougars’ largest lead of the game, with 18:33 left in the second period. Grace, however, fought back to cut their lead to five points with 10:36 remaining.
Saint Francis’ lead grew to 10 points (54-44) with 5:19 left in the game, but Grace cut their lead to four points in less than 30 seconds thanks to a Duke Johnson field goal, two clutch free throws by Dayton Merrell and a big-time steal and layup by Peattie.
The Cougars continued to keep Grace out of reach and took a 60-52 with 2:49 left. That’s when Peattie pioneered a 7-0 Lancer run and nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut Saint Francis’ lead to one point (60-59) before DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis finished off the Lancers with two field goals in the paint.
"Jacob really stepped up and gave us some quality minutes," Kessler continued. "It's great to have him back and playing like I know he can."
Johnson totaled 19 points and eight rebounds, Peattie finished with 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and Merrell contributed 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The Lancers were 1 of 16 from beyond the arc and attempted nine less free throws than the Cougars.
Grace played without Bruce Grimm Jr. for the second straight game.
The Lancers' fate will be decided upon the release of the last national poll on March 2, when the at-large bids will be awarded and the 32-team NAIA national tournament bracket will be completed.
WINONA LAKE, Ind.-- In the absence of star point guard Bruce Grimm Jr., Duke Johnson carried Grace to a 79-73 victory against Taylor University in the first round of the conference tournament on Wednesday.
Johnson's 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting, his biggest offensive output since Jan. 25, helped the second-seeded Lancers (22-9) advance to the conference semifinals on Saturday and virtually solidify their NAIA national tournament bid.
Grace led the majority of the game but watched their lead slip to one point (43-42) with 14:31 left in the second period. The Lancers, however, responded with a 21-6 run to blow the game open and bury the seventh-seeded Trojans (15-14).
Greg Miller gave Grace a spark, draining two 3-pointers and scoring 10 of the Lancers' 12 points during their run. Dayton Merrell also stepped up, scoring on back-to-back possessions with a 3-pointer and a bucket in the paint to cap off Grace's charge.
The Lancers jumped to a 7-0 lead at the start of the game, then allowed the Trojans to take a 22-21 advantage, their only lead of the game, with 7:52 remaining in the first period. Grace mounted an 18-6 run to take a 39-28 lead and maintained a 39-32 lead at the half.
Along with Johnson's 25 points, he also grabbed 10 rebounds to earn his seventh double-double of the season.
Miller totaled 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting, David Henry tallied 12 points on 3 of 5 shooting from downtown along with a game-high nine assists, Elliot Smith contributed 11 points and six assists, and Merrell added seven points.
The Lancers return to action in the conference tournament semifinals against third-seeded University of Saint Francis at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Orthopaedic Capital Center. Grace swept the defending NAIA Division II national champions during the regular season, defeating them 85-80 on Jan. 15 and 57-56 on Feb. 15.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Bruce Grimm Jr., Duke Johnson and David Henry received Mid-Central College conference honors upon the conclusion of the MCC regular season on Saturday.
"I'm very proud of our three men," said head coach Jim Kessler. "They are very deserving of those awards, and they helped us accomplish a lot during the regular season. But there is still much more work to do."
NCAA Division I East Tennessee State University transfer and 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball Runner-up Grimm was named Newcomer of the Year, All-Conference First Team and All-Newcomer Team in his first season with the Lancers. Averaging 13.9 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game and 2.2 steals per game, Grimm’s contributions were instrumental in Grace’s second-place regular season finish and probable berth in the national tournament.
Grimm ranks No. 8 in NAIA Division II in total steals with 65 and No. 35 in total assists with 112. He helped the Lancers finish on a 5-1 charge to close out the season, averaging over 20 points in his last seven games.
Henry, in his senior season, received All-Conference Honorable Mention and All-Defensive Team honors. The sharpshooter from Brownsburg, Ind., is shooting 44.5 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks No. 11 in the nation. He has tallied 34 steals this season.
Lastly, Johnson was named to the MCC All-Conference Second Team in his junior season with the Lancers. He leads Grace with 15.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and six double-doubles. Johnson ranks No. 13 in the country in field goal percentage, shooting 58.2 percent from the floor.
MARION, Ind. – In a game that decided the regular season conference champion, Grace could not overcome their 17 turnovers and poor shooting performance, falling to No. 9 Indiana Wesleyan 77-65 on Saturday.
The Lancers (21-9; 11-5 MCC), who finished second in the Mid-Central College Conference, will host a first and second round conference game. Grace will play seventh-seed Taylor University on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Lancers swept the Trojans in the regular season.
Grace amassed 14 turnovers in the first half but grabbed eight offensive rebounds and knocked down four 3-pointers, entering the half down by three points (35-32).
The Lancers held the Wildcats (24-6; 13-3 MCC) to 39.4 percent shooting in the half and outrebounded Indiana Wesleyan by 11.
The second half was a much different story as the Wildcats opened up a double-digit lead with 14:32 remaining and rarely let it go. Grace made a push with 10 minutes remaining chopping a 12-point deficit down to 53-49 with 8:23 to play. But Indiana Wesleyan responded with eight straight points to close the door.
Greg Miller led Grace with 18 points on 7 of 15 from the field. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had two blocked shots.
Duke Johnson and Elliot Smith both added 13 points with Smith recording three 3-pointers, and Bruce Grimm Jr. chipped in 9 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists.
Grace could only manage 12 of 36 (33.3 percent) from the field in the second half and attempted 17 fewer free throws than Indiana Wesleyan (30 to 13).
Listen to the Lancers' first-round conference tournament game here.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Trailing 56-55 with 17 seconds remaining, Bruce Grimm Jr. grabbed a long rebound and went coast-to-coast to score the go-ahead bucket with 12.7 seconds left to give Grace the 57-56 upset against No. 14 University of Saint Francis on Tuesday.
The victory, along with Indiana Wesleyan’s 89-78 loss to Marian, sets up a showdown for the MCC regular season crown when Grace takes on the Wildcats on Saturday.
The Lancers (21-8; 11-4 MCC) also clinched second place in the conference with the win and completed their sweep of the defending NAIA national champions.
“That kind of game is good to win. And even if we hadn’t won, I would have been proud for how we fought. We happened to make the last layup, but I was proud of our team,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “We held our ground in a physical game in which neither team shot very well.”
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half with both teams hitting under 39 percent. Grimm (11 points) provided the main offensive threat for the Lancers in the half. The Cougars were nearly as inept shooting in the half, making 12 of 31 (38.7 percent) including 0 for 7 from the 3-point line.
Grace battled back from a five-point deficit in the second half (36-31) to take their largest lead of the game at 51-42 with 6:28 remaining. Elliot Smith and Greg Miller hit back-to-back treys during Grace’s run.
Dennis Williams provided a huge spark in the half, playing tough defense on 2010 NAIA All-American DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis and slamming down a huge dunk in the post. Williams finished with eight points in 13 minutes.
But the Cougars (21-8; 10-5 MCC) clawed back and cut Grace’s lead to one on two occasions before taking the lead back at 54-53 with 2:25 left. Grimm made a fadeaway jumper in the lane on Grace’s next possession to regain the lead, but Qadr Owens responded with a bucket of his own to put Saint Francis on top 56-55.
The Lancers missed two shots in the final 1:18 by Smith and Duke Johnson. But Grace was aided when Saint Francis missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity, and finally when Owens’ shot with 17 seconds remaining bounced long to Grimm, which resulted in the game-winner.
“In the first half, I thought we were impatient,” Kessler continued. “But we were more patient in the second half, and we shot a higher percentage. I was really proud of how we defended, and I think that is how we were able to outlast them.”
Grimm finished with a game-high 21 points including Grace’s final six points. He also grabbed six boards, dished out three assists, and swiped three steals. Miller and Johnson were the next highest scorers for Grace with nine points apiece. Johnson also recorded eight boards and two blocked shots.
The Lancers can win their first MCC championship since 1992-93 with a win on Saturday against current first-place Indiana Wesleyan. The game tips-off at 3 p.m. Listen to the game live here.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In a must-win game to keep their national hopes alive, Bruce Grimm Jr. exploded for a near triple-double to lead the No. 17 Lancers to a 76-68 victory against Spring Arbor University.
Grimm tallied a season-high 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead Grace to their fourth-straight win and help them jump to a second-place tie with the University of Saint Francis in the conference standings.
“It was a must-win, and the guys stepped up,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “Bruce really lived up to the kind of player he is and stepped up big time.”
The Lancers (20-8; 10-4 MCC) trailed early 7-6 but never trailed again in the contest. Grace eventually built their lead to 17 points, its largest of the game with 15:41 remaining in the game, and maintained a double figures lead the majority of the half.
The final minutes of the game, however, Grace watched their lead dwindle away. Up 68-53 with 3:54 to play, the Cougars (16-13; 8-7 MCC) cut the deficit to four points and only trailed 70-66 with 1:09 remaining.
The next possession, David Henry drew contact on a 3-point attempt and hit 2 of 3 from the charity stripe to help give Grace some breathing room. Tannan Peters and Duke Johnson secured the victory with two clutch free throws apiece in the final minute.
“We established the tone and tenor of the game early,”Kessler continued. “Even when they made a run at the end, I still felt like we were in control.”
On his senior day, Henry tallied 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting including 2 of 3 from the 3-point line. Peters added 11 points off the bench and grabbed eight rebounds. Duke Johnson chipped in eight points, the first time Grace has won this season when he has scored under double-figures.
Grimm has scored 27 points or more in three of his last five games.
Grace’s bench outscored Spring Arbor’s 25-4.
“We got great minutes off the bench, and our bench outscored them big time,” Kessler continued. “Dayton and Tannan came off and had great games. Spring Arbor was determined to knock Duke off the lane and reallypacked it inside. But our bench really stepped up.”
The Lancers return to action at home on Tuesday against No. 13 Saint Francis for a 7 p.m. start. Listen to the game live here.
UPLAND, Ind. – Grace continued its late season surge, winning its third straight conference game in a convincing 78-58 victory over Taylor on Tuesday.
The Lancers (19-8; 9-4 MCC) caught fire early in the first half, and the Trojans (14-13; 4-10 MCC) struggled to find the answer all night. Grace found itself down 11-7 five minutes into the game, but from that point on, the Lancers outscored the Trojans 36-14 in the half to take an 18-point lead into halftime.
Grace shot nearly 70 percent from the field in the first half (18 of 26). Eight different Lancers scored in the balanced attack with no player shooting below 50 percent. Duke Johnson scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the first half. Johnson finished the game 8 of 11 from the field.
Taylor, on the other hand, could not find the mark throughout the evening. Grace held the Trojans into 36 percent shooting overall and 22 percent from the 3-point line.
Grace's lead held steady around 20 points in the second half. Taylor could only manage to cut the lead down to 13 at 62-49 with 7:22 to play.
Bruce Grimm Jr., who was recently named the NCCAA Student-Athlete of the Week, had a well-balanced game with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists without a turnover.
Elliot Smith and David Henry proved lethal from beyond the 3-point line with each hitting three treys. Henry finished with 15 points, and Smith added 11 points and three assists.
Henry has now hit at least three 3-pointers in five consecutive games. Over that stretch, he is 17 of 30 from beyond the arc for an astounding 57 percent.
The Lancers dominated down low, outscoring the Trojans 41-19 in the paint. Grace also held a plus-12 advantage on the glass.
Grace returns to the Orthopaedic Capital Center for a marquee matchup with Spring Arbor on Saturday in the TV-46 Game of the Week. The Lancers also will honor Henry and Stephen Kaufman at their Senior Day. The game starts at 3 p.m. Listen to the game live here and watch live stats here.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Bruce Grimm Jr. was awarded by the NCCAA as the Student-Athlete of the Week.
Grimm led Grace to two crucial wins in Mid-Central College Conference play during the week, averaging 22 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals per game.
He scored a game-high 27 points, 6 steals, and 4 assists in Grace's win over No. 19 Huntington University then followed up that effort with a 17-point, 7-assist performance against Goshen College.
For the season, Grimm averages 13.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 3.7 apg. He also leads the MCC in steals with 2.3 a game.
GOSHEN, Ind. – Grace hit an incredible 71 percent from the floor in the second half to run away from Goshen and win 87-66.
The Lancers (18-8; 8-4 MCC) were in front of the Maple Leafs (9-16; 2-10 MCC) in all but 23 seconds of the game. They placed four players in double figures, canned seven 3-pointers in the game, and earned their first win at Goshen since Jan. 6, 2007.
"We played within the rhythm of our system and were very balanced offensively," said head coach Jim Kessler. "We converted turnovers and attacked the basket. We needed to run and get easy transition baskets, which we did."
Duke Johnson and Bruce Grimm Jr. led all scorers with 17 points apiece. Grimm also tied a season-high with seven assists, and Johnson knocked down 7 of 10 field goals.
Grace held a comfortable margin throughout the second half, leading by as much as 25 at 86-61. The Maple Leafs never seriously threatened the Lancers in the second half, although they did have seven straight points to draw to 56-43 with 11:27 remaining.
Elliot Smith scored 12 points with a pair of 3's, and David Henry added all nine of his points in the second half with three 3-pointers.
Dayton Merrell accounted for nearly half of Grace's bench points with 11 points in nine minutes, and Greg Miller finished with nine points.
Overall, Grace and Goshen attempted an equal number of field goals, but the Lancers made eight more shots. In the second half, Grace made 20 of 28 from the field, 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, and 8 of 11 from the free throw line.
"It was a good team effort which is what it takes in the grind of the season," Kessler continued. "I'm very pleased with our play today, but it's no time to let down now."
The Lancers return to action on Tuesday. Grace will travel to Upland, Ind., to take on Taylor University at 7 p.m. Listen to the game live here.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – On a rare occasion where both teams were tied in the national rankings at No. 19 in the country, the Lancers were desperate for a victory to keep their Branson hopes alive.
Bruce Grimm Jr. led Grace to the win they needed, tallying a game-high 27 points, six steals and four assists in the Lancers’ 81-72 conquest over Huntington University.
“It was a huge win, especially since we were tied nationally,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “A national tournament appearance is at stake here, and I felt like the last few games, we’ve been playing not to lose. But we came out tonight, and we were the aggressor.”
The Lancers (17-8; 7-4 MCC) jumped to an early 21-6 advantage, thanks to Grimm’s 12 points in the first seven minutes.
“That’s one of the best starts we’ve had in a while, maybe even the best this year,” Kessler continued. “We came out playing free and taking shots that we needed to take. They played with the confidence, which is critical.”
The Foresters (18-7; 6-5 MCC) cut Grace’s lead to nine points with eight minutes remaining but watched the deficit grow to 18 points, Grace’s largest of the game, with 1:17 left in the first period. At the break, Grace held a comfortable 49-35 advantage.
It wasn’t comfortable enough, however. Huntington mounted a massive 21-6 charge to take a 56-55 lead, its first of the contest, with 12:17 remaining in the game.
The next possession, Grimm drove to the basket and made a shot in the paint to put the Lancers up for good. The Lancers maintained a narrow lead the remainder of the half, and clutch 3-pointers from Tannan Peters with 6:52 to play and David Henry with 5:42 remaining helped give Grace the cushion they needed.
Henry totaled 15 points on 4 of 8 shooting from 3-point land and tallied five rebounds along with four assists. Duke Johnson chipped in 12 points along with eight rebounds, and Greg Miller added 10 points and six boards.
The Lancers outrebounded Huntington on the offensive end 15-10, including four from Huntington, Ind., native Peters.
Grimm, in his second consecutive 27-point game, was 10 of 19 from the floor. He is averaging 25.5 points per game against the Foresters this season.
Grace jumped to third place in the conference with the win. They return to action on the road against Goshen College at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“We are in a position to determine our future,” Kessler said. “We need to take care of business.”
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace couldn’t contain Marian University’s stellar shooting on Saturday, slipping 75-63 at home.
The Knights (13-8; 4-7 MCC) went 13 for 24 from beyond the arc and 9 of 14 (64 percent) in the first half to complete their sweep against Grace and hand the Lancers (16-8; 6-4 MCC) their second loss of the season in the Orthopaedic Capital Center.
In a game where Grace never led, Marian jumped to a 30-16 lead in the first 13 minutes of the game, thanks to 8 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc in a 10-minute span. The Lancers entered halftime trailing 41-27.
Marian held a 17-point advantage (45-28), its largest lead of the game, in the first minute of the second period before Grace started chipping away at the lead. The Lancers cut the deficit to 10 points (48-38), but Marian responded with a 10-4 run of their own to build their lead back to 16 (58-42) with 11 minutes remaining.
Grace’s Bruce Grimm Jr. kept the Lancers in the game, tallying 17 second-half points and 27 overall on 9 of 19 shooting along with six assists and five rebounds.
Grimm scored two buckets in a row to help Grace spark a 10-2 run to chop Marian’s lead to eight points (60-52), but again, Marian fought to keep their lead in double-figures. The closest Grace got was seven points (69-62) with 3:32 remaining, Marian’s smallest lead since the 9:42 mark in the first half.
David Henry was the only other Lancer to score in double-figures, totaling 11 points. Duke Johnson tallied eight points on 4 of 6 shooting and grabbed nine boards.
Grace is 0-6 on the season whenever Johnson scores under 10 points and 13-1 whenever he scores over.
Marian shot worse from the field (44 percent) than they did from the 3-point line (54 percent) and only had eight turnovers compared to Grace’s 15.
The Lancers were whistled for 20 fouls compared to 12 for Marian.
Grace returns to action on Tuesday at home against Huntington University for a 7 p.m. start.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace College’s Derek “Duke” Johnson netted his 1,000th point in dramatic fashion on Tuesday.
Johnson, an Elkhart, Ind., native, carried the Lancers to an 87-82 victory against conference rival Bethel College, tallying a game-high 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Grace’s junior center went off for 10 straight points during a pivotal three-minute span late in the second half, scoring his 1,000th point on a field goal in the lane with 3:43 remaining in the game.
“It was just a stellar performance,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “To score 26 against a team that has had its way with us over the last couple years is an exemplary feat. He just dominated inside, and he wanted the basketball. It was also in his own back yard, so it was particularly joyful for him.”
The 2008 Jimtown High School graduate became the 42nd Lancer to join the 1,000-point club, scoring 216 points his freshman year, 472 his sophomore year and 313 so far this season. This season, he is averaging 16.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg and has notched five double-doubles. He is only three rebounds away from grabbing 500 career boards.
Johnson also ranks No. 1 in the MCC in field goal percentage (58.8 percent), No. 3 in double-doubles (5), No. 4 in rebounds per game (6.9), No. 5 in blocks per game (0.8), No. 8 in free throw percentage (80.9 percent) and No. 9 in scoring (16.6 ppg).
“He has come so far as a player, and I always saw the potential in him,” Kessler continued. “This last year, he has come to realize what his abilities really are. He plays with confidence and determination. He is realizing that he is a scorer, which has transformed him and transformed us.”
MISHAWAKA, Ind. – On a night where he notched his 1,000th career point, junior Duke Johnson singlehandedly fueled a key run to give Grace an 87-82 victory over rival Bethel College.
In a tightly contested game in which neither team led by more than nine points throughout, both teams were even at 70-70 with six minutes to play. But then Johnson decided to take over.
Johnson scored Grace's next 10 points in a three-minute span while the Pilots (13-11; 3-7 MCC) could only manage two which gave the Lancers (16-7; 6-3 MCC) the breathing room it needed. Johnson, who became the 42nd Lancer to join the 1,000 point club, hit 10 of 13 from the field for a game-high 26 points.
The win was especially fulfilling for Lancer seniors David Henry and Stephen Kaufman, who had not tasted victory at the Wiekamp Center or swept Bethel in four years. Grace's last win at Bethel came during the 2006-07 season.
Henry produced several momentum-changing 3-pointers in the game, including a dagger with 1:29 remaining to give Grace a nine-point margin. In 22 minutes of play, he finished with 19 points on 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, the seventh time he has nailed at least four 3's in a game this season.
Grace stayed ahead for the majority of the first half before yielding a late 11-3 run to allow Bethel to enter the locker room with a 38-36 advantage. The Lancers, however, quickly regained the lead less than two minutes into the second half and would not relinquish it again.
Although the Lancers pushed their lead up to eight on two occasions, the Pilots did not go down without a fight. Bethel went on a second 11-3 run to tie the game at 70 before Johnson's run effectively put the game out of reach.
Greg Miller played effectively off the bench with 14 points and five rebounds, and Bruce Grimm Jr. tallied 8 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
The Lancers finished 55.2 percent shooting from the field, including 62.1 percent (18 of 29) in the second half. They committed only four second-half turnovers while recording 10 steals in the game.
Grace can move into a tie for second place in the conference with a win on Saturday. The Lancers will host Marian University at 3 p.m.
CHICAGO, Ill. – Three Grace big men scored in double-figures in Grace’s 81-56 thrashing against non-conference opponent Roosevelt University on Saturday.
Duke Johnson led with 12 points in 20 minutes, Greg Miller posted 11 points in 15 minutes, and Jared Treadway added 10 points in eight minutes to give the Lancers their fifth victory in six games.
“We had a balanced production today,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “We were able to dominate down low and were productive on the offensive end, shooting above 50 percent from the field.”
The Lancers (15-7) held a narrow 22-18 advantage with six minutes left in the first half, then spearheaded a game changing 16-2 run to close the period and put the game out of reach. Johnson scored six points in a row during the run, and Dayton Merrell drained a half-court running shot at the buzzer to give Grace a demanding 38-20 lead at the break.
Grace continued their dominance over the Lakers (4-16) in the second half and rarely let its lead fall below 20 points. The Lancers built their lead to 32 points (69-37), the largest of the game, at the 7:10 mark.
The Lancers pounded it into the paint all night and outscored Roosevelt 56-18 down low, including 28-6 in the first period. Grace’s quality looks led to 54 percent shooting overall and 57 percent in the second half. They only took 12 threes total, and no Lancer attempted more than three from beyond the arc.
Tannan Peters, Dennis Williams and Miller grabbed seven boards apiece. Peters had four offensive rebounds.
Fourteen Lancers saw five minutes of action or more on the evening.
“It was a total team effort,” Kessler continued. “It will be important to carry this over when we get back into MCC play next week."
The game was Grace’s last non-conference contest of the season.
The Lancers return to action on the road against rival Bethel College at 8 p.m. on Tuesday to kick-off the second half of their conference season and try to improve on their 5-3 MCC record.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Playing its second straight game against a top-10 opponent, Grace's basketball team nearly erased an 18-point second-half deficit against No. 9 Indiana Wesleyan but ultimately faded and lost 79-67.
The Wildcats (19-3; 8-0 MCC) pushed their lead to 58-40 with 11:20 remaining before the Lancers (14-7; 5-3 MCC) started their comeback. Grace, who moved up to No. 16 in the latest NAIA poll, responded with a 14-4 run and soon cut the lead down to five with 4:21 to play.
Bruce Grimm Jr. did his best to keep Grace in the game with seven points in a four-minute stretch towards the end, but Indiana Wesleyan finished the game on an 11-4 run and clinched the win at the free throw line.
The Lancers hurt their cause tremendously in the first half with 14 turnovers. As a result, the Wildcats attempted 15 more field goals in the half but went into halftime with a meager 37-29 lead. Grimm (12 points) was the only player for Grace to record more than three points in the half. The Wildcats, consequently, had five players score at least six points by halftime.
In the second half, Grace's defense grabbed six steals and forced Indiana Wesleyan into nine turnovers, but it was too little too late. The Lancers' 15 of 17 performance from the foul line in the second half helped make up for shooting 37.0 percent from the field. Additionally, the Wildcats struggled mightily from the free throw line, sinking only 15 of 31 (48.4 percent).
Grimm had his highest offensive output of the season with a career-high 28 points. He hit 8 of 15 from the field, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, and 9 of 11 from the free throw line. He also added seven rebounds and five steals, which tied a season-high.
David Henry was the only other Lancer in double-digits with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Duke Johnson was held to nine points in 31 minutes, and Tannan Peters and Dayton Merrell each finished with five points.
The Lancers return to action on Saturday when they travel to Roosevelt University for a 3 p.m. tip-off.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Grace secured its biggest win of the season with an 85-80 road upset of No. 5 Saint Francis. The Lancers (14-6; 5-2 MCC) continued its tear in the Mid-Central College Conference with its fourth straight win, putting them in a tie for second place with the Cougars (16-5; 5-2 MCC).
With 4:18 left to play, Grace found itself down 70-67. But back-to-back 3-pointers by Dayton Merrell and David Henry gave the Lancers the lead for good.
On three separate occasions late in the game, Saint Francis cut the deficit down to one, but each time Grace found the answer: with 1:40 remaining, Henry drilled a trey; with 15 seconds left, Duke Johnson sank two free throws; and with 8 seconds remaining, Dayton Merrell iced the game with a pair of huge free throws.
"It was a quality game in that we didn't do everything right, but we continued to battle, stay together, and find a way for somebody to make a play," said head coach Jim Kessler. "We never panicked and stayed within ourselves. We just battled it down to the wire."
The Cougars had a golden opportunity to tie the game late. Qadr Owens made a shot and was fouled to make the score 81-80 with nine seconds remaining, but he missed the potential game-tying free throw, and Grace finished the game with four straight free throws to seal the upset.
Elliot Smith and Henry combined for eight 3-pointers and 19 points apiece to lead Grace's effort. Henry, who had an appendectomy one week ago, had five 3's overall and three treys in the final six minutes.
Johnson tallied 14 points, 7 boards, 4 assists, and 2 blocks, and Merrell finished with 10 points in 14 minutes. While Bruce Grimm Jr. struggled shooting the ball (1 of 11), he contributed with four rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals. Tannan Peters also finished with a solid seven points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.
Statistically, the game was nearly even. Both teams had 37 rebounds, and Grace had 16 turnovers compared to 17 for Saint Francis. The Lancers also made 24 of 56 from the field while the Cougars made 23 of 57. Grace had an advantage at the free throw line, where they sank 28 of 34 (82.4 percent).
"We're right where we'd like to be this time of the year," Kessler continued. "We haven't peaked by any means, but certainly to beat Saint Francis on the road is a good win for this young team. This team is beginning to believe in each other."
Grace's win sets up a major showdown at the Orthopaedic Capital Center on Tuesday with No. 11 Indiana Wesleyan, who currently sits atop the conference. The game tips-off at 7 p.m. Listen to the game live here or catch the live stats here.
SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Grace grinded the majority of the game, then pulled away down the stretch to defeat Spring Arbor 69-60 for their third straight conference victory on Tuesday.
The Lancers (13-6; 4-2 MCC), after losing all three contests against Spring Arbor last season, trailed the Cougars (11-10; 3-4 MCC) for the first 28 minutes, then mounted a 14-1 run in the second half to take their first lead of the game and hold on for the win.
“It was a great come-from-behind win for us,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “We got some stops, and I’m very proud of how we played like warriors tonight. We didn’t come out blazing, but in this conference, a win on the road is a win on the road. They had us by the throat, but our guys stepped up and made some big plays.”
Although Grace trailed the entire first half, they never allowed Spring Arbor’s lead to climb above 10 points. The Lancers got within two points at the beginning of the second half, but again, the Cougars built their lead back up to nine points before Grace mounted their run to take a 47-45 lead.
The Cougars only trailed 54-51 with eight minutes remaining in the game, but Grace went on an 11-0 run to finish off Spring Arbor for its first conference victory on the road.
“It was just a great team effort,” Kessler continued. “In the second half we went inside and we were able to score. Bruce (Grimm Jr.) just got us going, and he gave us that offensive power that we needed.”
Grimm, after picking up two early fouls, tallied 11 points in the second period and 16 overall. Greg Miller recorded his fifth double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Duke Johnson battled down low for 14 points including 8 of 10 shooting from the charity stripe. He also grabbed nine boards.
Spring Arbor’s DJ Baisden tallied 18 points in the first period, but Elliot Smith and Lee Ross held him to five points in the second half to slow down the Cougars’ offensive output.
Grace returns to action in Fort Wayne, Ind., against No. 5 University of Saint Francis on Saturday at 3 p.m.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- The Lancer defense held the Trojans to a season low 42 points on 21 percent shooting from the field on Saturday.
Grace (12-6; 3-2 MCC) turned up the defensive intensity sparking an 11-0 run with 12 minutes remaining in the first half to give the Lancers a 21-14 lead over the Trojans (11-8; 1-5 MCC). The run was sparked by Grace’s ability to create turnovers.
The Lancers were led by Bruce Grimm Jr. who recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also added five steals. “Grimm does a good job of creating havoc on the defensive end, which leads to easy buckets on the other end,” said assistant coach John Yeh.
“We made an effort to get the ball into Duke Johnson and he really opened it up for the rest of the team,” continued Yeh. Johnson scored 11 of his 19 points in the first half including seven of the first eight points.
“We played a complete game today,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “Our defense played well the entire night and forced Taylor into some bad decisions, which allowed our offense to get back on track.”
Grace took control of the game for good mid-way through the second half by going on a 15-2 run. Grimm ignited the run with seven points and two assists to give the Lancer’s a commanding 47-28 lead.
Grace outrebounded the Trojans 38-24 dominated the paint 38-8 en route to a 70-42 victory. The win is the sixth straight win over the Trojans and the ninth straight home win this season.
Grace shot 52 percent from the field on the day with only two players in double-figures. Greg Miller played well of the bench as he netted nine points and ripped down eight rebounds.
The Lancers will be on the road at Spring Arbor on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Duke Johnson tallied 21 second half points to lead Grace to their first victory over Goshen in two years on Thursday.
After only taking four shots and scoring two points in the first half, Johnson torched the Maple Leafs (7-10; 0-4 MCC) in the second period to deliver the 73-66 Lancer victory.
“Duke was his old self,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “The injury set him back and his opponents have constantly gone after him physically. But when Duke handles the ball, good things happen.”
The Lancers (11-6; 2-2 MCC) struggled for the first 30 minutes and trailed 52-43 with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Grace, having lost its previous four games, was desperate for a win and responded with a 19-6 run to take a 62-58 advantage.
Goshen, still looking for its first victory in conference play, tried to get back in the game, but a dagger 3-pointer by Dayton Merrell helped the Lancers distance themselves from the Maple Leafs.
Bruce Grimm Jr. also carried the Lancers in the second half, tallying four assists and setting up Johnson numerous times. Grimm and Johnson combined for 30 of Grace’s 48 second half points.
“It’s just an intensity thing,” Kessler continued. “Bruce and Duke really stepped up tonight. And for the first time in a while, we competed when we had to tonight. It’s not always pretty, but we made shots and made stops when we had to.”
After an abysmal first half, the Lancers responded like they needed to in the final period. Grace had 13 turnovers in the first and six in the second, shot 37 percent from the floor in the first and 54 percent in the second and shot 36 percent from the charity stripe in the first compared to 79 percent in the second.
The win snaps Grace’s four-game losing streak this season and their four-game drought against the Maple Leafs dating back to Jan. 3, 2009.
Johnson led all players with 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting and 12 rebounds, his first double-double since Grace’s victory against Mid-Continent University on Nov. 13 and his first since his return to the hardwood on Dec. 29 after his ankle injury.
Grimm added 17 points on 6 of 13 shooting and five assists, and Henry contributed eight points.
Grace outrebounded Goshen 39-27 and outscored them in the paint 38-22.
The Lancers are 8-0 at home this season.
Grace returns to action at home against conference opponent Taylor University on Saturday at 3 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, Ind. – David Henry and Bruce Grimm combined for 41 points and eight assists, but Grace still fell short to No. 24 Huntington 76-67 on Tuesday.
The Lancers (10-6; 1-2 MCC) nailed half of their three-point attempts, but allowed the Foresters (13-3; 2-1 MCC) to shoot 50.0 percent from the field for the game. Despite being down by two at halftime, No. 17 Grace could only manage 29 points in the second half to allow Huntington to cruise to the victory.
Grace allowed Huntington to grab 15 offensive rebounds. The Foresters held a plus-16 advantage on the boards, and no Lancer had more than five rebounds.
Huntington's defense held Grace's top scorer this season Duke Johnson to three points. Johnson managed one field goal in 25 minutes before fouling out with 3:40 to play.
Grimm was the high scorer for Grace with 24 points. He also tallied five assists and one turnover. Henry scored 17 points with four 3-pointers -- all in the first half. He also recorded three assists.
Grace is in the midst of its toughest stretch of the season, having lost four straight. In Grace's past four games, they have surrendered at least 74 points. For the season, the Lancers are 2-5 when their opponents score at least 74 and 7-2 when Grace holds them to under 74.
LAKE WALES, Fla. – Despite a season-high 26 points from Bruce Grimm Jr., Grace's men's basketball team surrendered a double-digit second half lead and lost to Warner University 79-72 at the Warner Holiday Tournament.
After beginning the second half down by three, No. 17 Grace jolted out of the locker room on a 14-0 spree which was fueled by three and-one buckets. The Royals (6-6) were not shaken, however, and countered with an 8-0 run of their own to slice Grace's lead to five. The Lancers (10-5) were still up 59-50 with 11:09 remaining before the Royals scored 11 straight points to regain the lead.
David Henry nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 69-69 with three minutes remaining, but Warner answered with a trey on their next possession and never looked back after that.
Grace hampered its own cause tremendously down the stretch with five turnovers in the final six minutes. Duke Johnson, starting for the first time since his injury on Dec. 4, was Grace's main threat in the second half. He scored 16 of his 18 points after halftime and tallied four rebounds and a team-high four assists in the game.
Grimm erupted in the first half for Grace with 19 points and four three-pointers. He finished 7 of 14 from the field, 8 of 9 from the free throw line, and also recorded four rebounds and four steals. Henry was equally lethal for the Lancers with 12 of his 15 points in the first half.
Grace recorded the same amount of assists as Warner (13) but committed 17 turnovers compared to eight for the Royals. The Lancers nailed 9 of their 20 attempts from beyond the arc. It was the fourth time Grace has hit four three's, although the previous three resulted in victories for the Lancers.
Tannan Peters was the leading rebounder in the game with 10 as the Lancers outrebounded the Royals 32-27.
The Lancers now return their attention to the heart of the conference season. Grace will travel to Huntington, Ind., on Tuesday to take on the Foresters at 7 p.m.
LAKE WALES, Fla. – In their third straight top-25 showdown, No. 17 Grace fell to No. 19 Davenport 74-71 at the Warner Holiday Tournament on Wednesday.
The Lancers (10-4) had a seven-point lead midway through the second half, their largest of the game, but yielded a 13-0 Davenport run to fall behind 62-56 and never regain the lead.
Elliot Smith hit two clutch 3-pointers in a row to tie the game 66-66 with two minutes remaining, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Panthers (13-3). Davenport scored four points in a row and eventually solidified their victory at the charity stripe.
“We will learn from these losses,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “Playing against quality teams like Davenport will help prepare us for the heart of our conference season. We need to bounce back and get ourselves a victory tomorrow.”
Grace outrebounded Davenport 33-28 and outshot them 50 percent to 29 percent from beyond the arc, but allowed the Panthers’ Nathan Cox to tally 19 points in 15 minutes of play. Davenport won the turnover battle 16-11.
Dayton Merrell led the Lancers with 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting. He also grabbed seven boards and totaled three assists. Tannan Peters and Elliot Smith chipped in 10 points. Greg Miller, Bruce Grimm Jr., and Duke Johnson tallied nine apiece off of the bench.
Johnson played 29 minutes, his first action since his ankle injury against Marian University on Dec. 4.
Grace has now lost two in a row, its first back-to-back losses all season.
The Lancers return to action at 7 p.m. against host school Warner on Thursday.
CANTON, Ohio – Grace couldn’t get past the host school, No. 23 Malone University in the championship game of the Canton Comfort Inn Tournament on Saturday.
In their second straight top-25 showdown, No. 17 Grace was outscored in the paint 34-20 overall and 22-6 in the second half to fall 79-57 to the Pioneers (9-4).
“In our win last night, we dominated in the post,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “Today, we got dominated in the paint. The game was more physical than we are accustomed to, and our inexperience really showed tonight. Our freshmen post players were going against upperclassmen.”
Five minutes into the game, Malone sparked an 11-2 run and never trailed again to the Lancers (10-3). Grace cut the deficit to five points at halftime (33-28), but Malone built their lead back to double-figures at the start of the second half.
At the 10:50 mark in the second period, Grace again got within reaching distance and only trailed 47-40. Malone, however, responded with a 16-4 run to put the game away. The Pioneers built their lead up to 22 points before the end of regulation, their largest lead of the game.
Grace shot 31 percent from the floor and 15 percent from beyond the arc. Malone shot 50 percent overall and 25 percent from the 3-point line.
“The numbers really speak for themselves,” Kessler continued. “We just missed so many shots. But this type of loss could be good for us. This is a team that we could meet on the national level.”
Dayton Merrell led the Lancers with a season-high 15 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Tannan Peters totaled 10 points, and David Henry chipped in eight points along with a game-high four assists. Dennis Williams grabbed eight boards including four offensive rebounds.
Grace, in the absence of star center Duke Johnson, scored under 30 points in both periods of play.
The Lancers return to action after Christmas when they travel to Florida to face Davenport University on Dec. 29 at the Warner Southern Tournament. The game is set to start at 5 p.m.
CANTON, Ohio -- In a top-25 battle at the Canton Comfort Inn Tournament, Grace used a 32-8 run to ease past IU-East and won handily, 96-67.
The tandem of Greg Miller (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Tannan Peters (19 points, 9 rebounds) filled in more than capably in the absence of leading scorer and rebounder Duke Johnson. Their efforts led five Lancers in double-digit scoring.
"I'm pleased with such good balance against a ranked opponent," said head coach Jim Kessler. "It was good to see lots of guys get lots of minutes, and it was a total team effort."
The Lancers (10-2) led by three points with eight minutes remaining in the opening half. But Grace erupted offensively, scoring 18 unanswered points during one stretch, and pushed the score to 56-29 just two minutes into the second half. Grace nailed 69 percent of their shots in the first half, including a perfect 6 for 6 from Miller, and held IU-East to under 38 percent the entire game.
"We were able to click on all cylinders and put the game away right before halftime, which was crucial," Kessler continued.
Miller and Peters shot a combined 17 of 21 from the field, and their rebounding total alone exceeded the total team effort of the Red Wolves (10-4). The Lancers outrebounded the Red Wolves by 29.
For Grace, it was the fourth time this season they have topped 90 points. It was also their best shooting performance of the season with 62 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and 83 percent from the free throw line.
Elliot Smith scored 11 points with three 3-pointers, Bruce Grimm Jr. recorded all 11 of his points in the first half, and Jacob Peattie chipped in 10 for Grace.
The Lancers return to action in the championship game of the Canton Comfort Inn Tournament tomorrow at 3 p.m. Grace will prepare for its second straight top-25 battle with a showdown against the host school, No. 23 Malone University. Follow the game with live stats and a live radio broadcast.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace's men's basketball team forced 26 turnovers and held IU-Northwest to 31.1 percent shooting from the field en route to an 81-58 victory on Saturday night. With the win, the Lancers improve to 9-2 on the season.
The Lancers never trailed in the game and used a 16-3 run midway through the first period to gain a comfortable lead, which they would not relinquish. In the absence of Grace's leading scorer and rebounder Duke Johnson, the Lancers still managed to dominate points in the paint (38 to 16) and rebounds (plus-10 advantage). Tannan Peters stepped up in Johnson's absence with 15 points in 21 minutes on 7 of 10 from the field.
"Tonight's just another good example of team basketball by Grace," said head coach Jim Kessler. "Duke's gone but we had people step up tonight. Tannan was on and gave us a great lift early."
The RedHawks (1-12) fired 22 three-pointers in the game but only managed to sink six, but they did take advantage of 28 Grace fouls to record 24 points from the free-throw line.
Greg Miller continued his outstanding freshman campaign with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists, and Elliot Smith got on track from the outside with a trio of three-pointers and 11 points overall. David Henry played a solid game with eight points and six assists with only one turnover, and Bruce Grimm Jr. tallied 10 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Grace struggled mightily from the charity stripe with an 18 of 34 performance (52.9 percent), but they capitalized on IU-Northwest's mistakes by scoring 19 points off turnovers.
The Lancers return to action next weekend at the Canton Comfort Inn Tournament. Grace takes on IU-East on Friday at 6 p.m.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace bounced back with a dominant 78-58 victory against Manchester College on Tuesday evening.
In the absence of leading scorer and rebounder Duke Johnson, junior Dayton Merrell helped carry the weight and get the Lancers (8-2) off to a solid start. Grace never trailed, thanks to Merrell's 10 points in the first seven minutes to give the Lancers an early 13-4 lead.
"This was an excellent team effort," said head coach Jim Kessler. "We had a number of people rebound from an abysmal performance in Indianapolis."
Merrell scored all 14 of his points in the first period, helping Grace build a dominant 44-24 lead at halftime. Lee Ross also gave Grace a boost off the bench in the first half, scoring nine of his 11 points in the first period. He drained two 3-pointers in a row at the end of the half to secure Grace's double-figure lead for the remainder of the game.
Grace continued to build their lead in the second period, and led by 33, their largest lead of the game, with six minutes remaining in the game. The Spartans (3-3) cut the deficit to 20 points before the end of regulation.
"As a team, we showed a tremendous amount of resiliency and character against a good team," Kessler continued. "We played with more energy and played better together. We are the best when we push the ball."
Along with Merrell, Bruce Grimm Jr. also totaled 14 points. Grimm also tallied six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Ross finished with 11 points on 3 of 3 shooting including 2 of 2 from downtown. He also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Elliot Smith added nine points on 3 of 5 shooting, and Jacob Peattie chipped in eight points.
Grace outscored Manchester off the bench 38-29 and saw 13 players get five minutes of playing time or more.
The Lancers return to action at home against Indiana University Northwest at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Turnovers and a key injury led to Grace's first defeat in conference play as the No. 15 Lancers lost 71-50 to Marian University.
Grace started slowly, committed 11 first-half turnovers and finding themselves down by 12 points with 5:24 remaining before the break. To make matters worse, Grace's main offensive weapon Duke Johnson was injured after playing nine minutes and did not return to the floor. Regardless, the Lancers (7-2; 1-1 MCC) made a 10-0 run to cut the Knights' (4-3; 1-2 MCC) lead to two at the half.
Greg Miller tied the score at 29 apiece with a quick bucket to start the second half, but Grace would not sniff the lead again. The Lancers could only manage two free throws offensively over the next 7:30 to provide the momentum the Knights needed to run away with the upset.
Marian shot 60.9 percent from the floor in the second half compared to 29.6 percent for Grace. Overall, Grace struggled from the perimeter with a 2 of 17 performance from beyond the arc. The Lancers held a plus-10 advantage on the boards but recorded 20 turnovers to hamper their cause.
David Henry led Grace in scoring with 12 points on 5 of 12 shooting. He also tallied seven rebounds and three steals. Freshman Dennis Williams played a crucial role in Johnson's absence and snatched a game-high 10 boards in 17 minutes, and Greg Miller chipped in with eight points.
The Lancers return to action on Tuesday when they welcome Manchester College to the Orthopaedic Capital Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Listen to the game live here.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – It’s been a long time coming for the Grace men’s basketball team.
After losing eight in a row to long-time conference foe Bethel College, the Lancers (7-1; 1-0 MCC) snapped their four-year drought on Wednesday, defeating the Pilots (8-3; 0-2 MCC) 84-76 at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.
“It was a really nice start to our conference season,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “If you want to play well in the MCC, you have to protect your home court. We didn’t play well overall, but our shooting kept us in the game.”
When Bethel cut Grace’s lead to four points with two minutes left in the game, senior David Henry drained a dagger 3-pointer to put the game out of reach. It was only fitting that Henry, who has tasted seven losses to Bethel in his four years at Grace, sparked the Lancer offense with five 3-pointers on the evening.
“Our guard play today was outstanding,” Kessler continued. “Dave’s shooting kept us in the game, Elliot played well and Bruce settled down after a rough start and gave us a big boost in the first half.”
Despite an early 14-6 deficit to the Pilots, Henry and Bruce Grimm Jr. kept Grace in the game, combining for 25 of the Lancers’ first 28 points. Henry and Grimm each nailed three treys in the first period, and Grimm scored 10 points in a row to help Grace take the lead and never look back midway into the first half. Smith hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first period to give Grace a 46-40 advantage at halftime.
The Lancers built their lead to double-figures at the beginning of the second period when Dayton Merrell threw down a highlight fastbreak dunk with 17:44 to play. Grace built their lead to 14 points, their largest of the game, and held a double-figures advantage for seven straight minutes. Bethel slowly chipped at Grace’s lead, however, and gave the Lancers several scares in the game’s final minutes.
“We found a way to win tonight,” said assistant coach Jon Yeh. “Our shooting dug us out of some holes, and our defense got us some stops when we needed them.”
Dennis Williams made a number of stellar defensive stands, totaling four blocks overall.
Grimm led all scorers with a season-high 23 points and also tallied six assists and four steals. Henry had 20 points on 5 of 9 shooting from beyond the arc along with four assists, and Duke Johnson added 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Henry and Grimm each played 38 minutes.
Grace outshot Bethel from the 3-point line: 45 percent (9 of 20) to nine percent (1 of 11). The Lancers also outshot the Pilots from the charity stripe 76 percent (23 of 30) to 61 percent (17 of 28).
“It was a great game for the crowd and the student body,” Kessler continued. “Getting a win in our conference opener will give us some momentum for the upcoming MCC season.”
The Lancers return to action against conference opponent Marian University on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Indianapolis, Ind. Listen to the game live here.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- The Lancer-Pilot rivalry will write the next chapter in its storied rivalry this Wednesday when the two foes square off at the Orthopaedic Capital Center.
Grace fans are encouraged to wear red as part of the "Red Out," and there will be numerous prizes given away throughout the night.
The women's game between Grace and Bethel will kick off the night at 6 p.m. with the men's game to follow at 8 p.m. Listen to both broadcasts of the doubleheader live here.
The first 200 fans to both the men's and the women's games will receive a free hot dog. There will also be a TV giveaway and an Ultimate Fan Package, including Grace athletic apparel, a Lancer bobblehead, and free concessions for the rest of the year.
Additional tickets can be earned by wearing red, painting your face, or creating a sign to either game.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Duke Johnson was named the NCCAA Student-Athlete of the Week and also the MCC Player of the Week for his performance. In three games, two of which were against top-25 opponents, he averaged 22 points and 7 rebounds per game.
At the Judson Classic, Johnson tallied 57 points in two games. He led the Lancers with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a top-25 showdown with No. 21 Judson on Friday. Against Purdue Calumet on Saturday, he connected on 12 of 14 attempts from the field and 8 of 9 from the charity stripe to record a career-high 32 points in 29 minutes.
On the season, Johnson is averaging a double-double with 20.9 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is a 59 percent shooter from the floor and an 81 percent shooter from the free throw line. He is currently ranked fourth in the NAIA in total rebounds with 72 and ranked 18th in total points with 146 on the young season.
The Lancers return to action on Dec. 1 as they host conference rival Bethel at 7 p.m. in the Orthopaedic Capital Center.
ELGIN, Ill. – Grace’s shooting continued to improve in their 99-84 victory against Purdue Calumet on Saturday.
The Lancers (6-1) shot 52 percent from the 3-point line and 60 percent from the floor, their best shooting performance of the season, to go 2-0 at the Judson Classic.
“It’s good to see that our shooting woes are over,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “And I think that it’s because they are starting to discover their roles on the team.”
Grace shot 21 percent from beyond the arc in their first five games, then began to climb out of their slump last night when they shot 36 percent in their 87-72 against No. 21 Judson University. Against Purdue Calumet on Saturday, Grace finally showcased their danger from the outside, draining 13 of their 25 threes.
“Our guards are playing with more confidence, and they have more confidence in each other,” Kessler continued. “There are a lot of different pieces on this team that they are learning to trust.”
Much of Grace’s outside success against the Peregrines (1-6) can be attributed to Duke Johnson’s dominance in the post, which helped open up the perimeter. Johnson tallied a career-high 32 points on 12 of 14 shooting to pace the Lancers.
Grace dominated from the beginning, jumping to a 29-12 lead on 80 percent shooting in the first 10 minutes of the game. Purdue Calumet, however, nailed six threes in the final eight minutes of the period to cut Grace’s lead to single digits. Entering halftime, Grace held a narrow 49-43 lead.
Again, the Lancers started the half off strong and mounted a 23-6 run in the first seven minutes of the period to build a 23-point lead, their largest of the game.
David Henry hit five 3-pointers in the first half to total 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting from downtown. He also had a game-high six assists. Greg Miller tallied 13 points and grabbed eight boards, and Elliot Smith added 10 points including two treys.
“At this point, I’m pleased with where we are,” Kessler continued. “This was the first phase of the season, and now we have a couple conference games in a row. We have faced some solid, athletic teams, and we are prepared for what we need to do.”
Grace returns to action after Thanksgiving break when they take on conference rival Bethel College at 8 p.m. on Dec. 1.
ELGIN, Ill. -- After shooting 21 percent from beyond the arc in Grace's first five games this season, the Lancers' shooting drought finally came to an end on Friday.
The Lancers (5-1) nailed 10 threes and shot 36 percent from downtown to defeat No. 21 Judson University 87-72 in a top-25 showdown at the Judson University Classic. Bruce Grimm Jr., went 3 of 8 from the 3-point line while David Henry and Elliot Smith each hit a pair of threes as well.
No. 17 Grace struggled to find their rhythm in the first half and trailed the Eagles (2-5) 32-30 at halftime. The Lancers, however, caught fire in the second half and mounted a 33-16 run in the first 10 minutes of the period to build a 15-point lead and distance themselves from the host school.
The Eagles climbed their way back and cut Grace's lead to seven points with nine minutes remaining, but Grace responded with a 15-5 run, thanks to 3-pointers from Henry and Grimm. The Lancers quickly regained their double-digit lead and held a comfortable 17-point advantage, their largest of the game, with under four minutes to play.
After scoring 30 points in the first period, Grace exploded in the second half for 57 points, nearly doubling their first half total.
Grace's depth also helped wear down the Eagles in the second half. Head coach Jim Kessler played 14 guys, saw nine of them score and played 10 of them for seven minutes or more. Judson, on the other hand, only played seven players, and six of them saw at least 24 minutes.
Duke Johnson got back on track and led Grace with 25 points including 13 from the charity stripe. Greg Miller had the game's lone double-double, totaling 20 points and 11 boards. Grimm nearly had a double-double as well, netting 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds as a point guard. Henry had five assists.
Judson has lost two in a row and is 1-3 at home this season.
Grace will face Purdue Calumet tomorrow on the final day of the Judson University Classic at 3 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Grace's shooting woes continued on Tuesday evening, resulting in a 67-63 loss to No. 7 IU-Southeast, the Lancers' first loss of the year.
The highly anticipated top-20 match-up took place late Tuesday night after the Pacers vs. Hawks game at Conseco Fieldhouse, creating a memorable atmosphere for players and fans. The Lancers (4-1), however, couldn't make the experience even more memorable with an upset over a top-10 team, largely due to 6 of 24 shooting from beyond the arc.
“We played a very good and talented team who, due to their athleticism, exposed some of the areas of our game that need to improve,” said head coach Jim Kessler. “This was good for us. A loss to the seventh ranked team in the nation is not the worst thing that can happen to a young team. However, victory is not always the best teacher--so I think this will serve to make us better.”
Despite No. 17 Grace’s shooting struggles, the Lancers still managed to keep the game close with the Grenadiers (4-1). The back-and-forth game featured seven ties, 11 lead changes and deficits no greater than seven points.
Grace had a chance to tie the game when they trailed 66-63 with 15 seconds remaining, but stellar Grenadier defense made the Lancers take a tough shot that barely fell short.
IU-Southeast held a lead for 10 consecutive minutes in the second half but couldn't pull away because of David Henry's clutch shooting touch from the perimeter. Henry made four of the Lancers' six 3-pointers, including three in a row late in the second period to cut IU-Southeast's lead to one point (60-59).
Grace took their final lead of the game at the 4:20 mark when Bruce Grimm Jr., cut through the lane and laid it in to make the score 61-60. The Grenadiers finished the game on a 7-1 run on five free throws to avoid the upset and earn their fourth straight victory.
Tannan Peters and Greg Miller played well in the first period, going up against the Grenadiers' athletic bigmen. Peters scored 12 of his 14 in the first period, and Miller had nine of his 11.
Although Grace trailed most of the first half, IU-Southeast's lead never grew beyond six points. Elliot Smith scored five straight points at the end of the half to give Grace a 38-37 lead, their first since the 10:53 mark. But the lead wouldn't last as Grace yielded a bucket in the final 30 seconds to enter halftime trailing 39-38.
Peters led the Lancers in two categories with 14 points and eight rebounds. Henry totaled 13 points, and Greg Miller had 11 points and seven boards. Bruce Grimm Jr., had a game-high seven assists.
Lee Ross played solid defense in the second period on one of the NAIA's top players, Jazzmarr Ferguson, who was averaging 28.5 ppg entering Tuesday's meeting. Ferguson tallied 21 points on 8 of 21 shooting against Grace, one of his worst shooting performances of the season. Henry and Grimm also guarded IU-SE's star player.
“I was overall pleased with our defensive effort,” Kessler continued. “Only giving up 28 points in the second half against a team that scored 70-plus points against Mid Continent is a good thing. But we must become more efficient at the other end. I think we were often one pass or reversal away from a better look at the hoop.”
The Lancers totaled 21 turnovers on the evening to the Grenadiers' 19.
Grace returns to action this weekend at the Judson Classic on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20. Grace will face Judson at 7 p.m. on Friday and Purdue Calumet at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace captured their second straight Terry Polston Hoops for Hope Tournament title on Saturday.
The Lancers (4-0) never trailed and defeated NAIA Division I Mid-Continent University 68-50 to continue their undefeated season.
"It was a nice team win," said head coach Jim Kessler. "It's good to have the depth where you can rotate people. Bruce (Grimm) controlled the game, and Duke (Johnson) played well against the big guys. Dennis (Williams) came in and stepped up as well."
With seven minutes left in the first half, Grace held a narrow 15-13 advantage. The Lancers, however, ended the half on a 18-5 charge to distance themselves from the Cougars (3-3).
Grace continued to build on their lead in the second period and led by 22 points with 17 minutes remaining, their largest of the game. Mid-Continent tried to fight their way back, but the Lancers kept their lead in double-figures to hold on for the victory.
After tallying 15 points and 12 rebounds yesterday, Duke Johnson continued to dominate in the post, tallying 19 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. It was his fourth double-double of the year, and his stellar performance earned him Tournament MVP honors.
Grace, who has shot below 20 percent from beyond the arc in its first three games, finally got somewhat back on track on Saturday. David Henry gave Grace a boost from beyond the arc, draining 4 of 8 for 12 points. Elliot Smith also hit his first 3-pointer of the year, and Bruce Grimm Jr., hit his third trey of the season.
"Finally, the drought is over," Kessler joked. "Now we are on our way. If we can score inside and out, we can be a really good team."
Grimm totaled 11 points and four assists, and Henry also tallied four assists.
At the NCCAA Tournament last season, Mid-Continent shot 65 percent and dropped 85 points on Grace. This year, however, the Lancers shut the Cougars down, holding them to 30 percent shooting and only 50 points. Grace's opponents are only averaging 57.8 points this season.
"The thing that excites me the most is 50 points," Kessler said. "We said early on that we need to establish ourselves defensively. If we can hold our opponent to 50 points, I know we can score 51."
The Lancers outrebounded Mid-Continent 43-33.
Members of the All-Tournament team include: Dayton Merrell (Grace), Chris Ferguson and Tim Bryant (Mid-Continent), Jordan Schmackers (Wright State Lake), and Kendall Cunningham (Temple Baptist). Grace's Henry was also named the winner of the Mental Attitude award.
Grace is back in action against No. 7 Indiana University-Southeast on Tuesday at the Indiana Pacers' Conseco Fieldhouse. The Lancers will play after the Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks game that starts at 7 p.m. The Grenadiers were 25-7 last season and advanced to the Elite Eight at the NAIA national tournament.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Grace doubled Temple Baptist College's score on Friday, defeating them 100-50 on the opening day of the Terry Polston Hoops for Hope Tournament.
The undefeated Lancers (3-0) played 17 players, had seven of them reach double-figures and had three players finish with double-doubles. Duke Johnson led with 15 points and 12 boards, Tannan Peters had 12 and 10, and Greg Miller tallied 11 and 13. It was Johnson's third double-double of the year, Peters' second and Miller's first.
Dayton Merrell got the Lancers off to a good start with a momentous dunk just 30 seconds into the game, helping Grace jump to an early 20-4 lead in the first five minutes. Grace built their lead to 36 points in the first half and held a dominant 65-30 advantage at halftime.
"I thought we got off to a solid start tonight," said head coach Jim Kessler. "Dayton gave us some good energy early, and I thought our bigs did a really good job of getting boards. I was pleased with how we got a good start, but the time will come when we need a 40 minute effort."
Grace continued the trend in the second half and built a 50-point lead, their largest lead of the game, thanks to a Dennis Williams put-back in the final seconds of regulation. Williams added eight points in his first minutes as a Lancer.
The Lancers had 56 points in the paint to Temple's 20 and 50 bench points to the Rams' 27.
Grace totaled 72 rebounds on the evening, just eight shy of the program record.
The Lancer guards continued to struggle from the perimeter and only shot 22 percent from beyond the arc.
"We haven't shot it well this year and we've scored 100 points twice," Kessler said. "Our shots will start to fall."
The Lancers will face Mid-Continent University in the championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. Mid-Continent defeated Wright State Lake in the opening round on Friday and beat Grace in the NCCAA national tournament last year in Oakland City, Ind.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In front of a jam-packed Homecoming crowd on Saturday, Grace crushed Ohio University-Eastern 129-78, only seven points shy of their 136-point single game record against Spring Arbor in 1992.
The Lancers (2-0) got off to a rocky start and trailed 20-19 with 11:30 remaining in the half. Grace, however, mounted a massive 41-14 run to close out the period and entered halftime with a comfortable 61-33 lead.
"I was pleased with our overall team performance today," said head coach Jim Kessler. "This was a total team effort, but we're not satisfied yet. It was good to get most of our guys playing time in front of a tremendous crowd."
Grace's lead hung around 30 points for the first seven minutes, grew to the 40's in the next eight minutes and peaked at 55 points (123-68) with 3:19 remaining in the game.
Greg Miller, Tannan Peters, Duke Johnson and Nathan VanDuyne dominated the Panthers (1-1) in the post, totaling 67 points combined. Grace nearly tallied 100 points in the paint alone, outscoring OU-East 94-32.
Fifteen Lancers saw playing time, 14 scored, and seven finished in double-figures. Grace totaled 69 bench points to the Panthers' 20.
Miller led Grace with 23 points, Peters had a career-high 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Johnson totaled 16 points and 12 boards. Jacob Peattie added 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting, including two fastbreak dunks, and Elliot Smith and VanDuyne added 10 points apiece. Bruce Grimm Jr. tallied nine points and seven assists.
Grace shot 56 percent from the floor (52 of 93) and 88 percent (22 of 25) from the charity stripe but continued to struggle from beyond the arc, going 3 of 17.
The Lancers forced 22 Panther errors and only turned the ball over 13 times.
Grace will have a week-long break before hosting the Optimist KCCCF Tournament next Friday and Saturday. The Lancers face Temple Baptist at 8 p.m. on Friday.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Duke Johnson picked up right where he left off in Grace's season opener on Monday.
After averaging 19.6 ppg in his final 10 games last season, Johnson tied a career-high 30 points and set a career-high 16 rebounds on Monday, leading Grace to a 72-53 victory against Andrews University.
Freshman Greg Miller also played well in the post for Grace, totaling 18 points in his first collegiate game. Johnson and Miller combined for 48 of Grace's 72 points and shot 84 percent from the floor. Johnson was 13 for 16, and Miller was 8 of 9 from the floor. They were Grace's only two scorers in double figures.
"Our post players had great games today for us," said head coach Jim Kessler, who is entering his 34th season as head coach for the Lancers. "I was happy with Greg's performance right out of the gate, and it's great to see Duke carry the team like he did."
The Cardinals (1-1) shot over 50 percent from the floor in the first half but still trailed Grace 38-31 at halftime. The Lancers (1-0) pulled away in the second half, outscoring them 34-22 in the period.
Grace's post players had a dominating performance, outscoring Andrews 54-20 in the paint, outrebounding them 44-23 overall and 18-7 on the offensive end.
"We still have a lot to figure out as a team," Kessler said. "We can't have 21 turnovers like we did tonight in a conference game and expect to win. But this is what the nonconference season is about. We will learn and continue working hard in practice."
Grace is back in action on Saturday against Ohio-Eastern University at 3 p.m. for homecoming.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball teams grabbed one of its highest preseason rankings during the 34-year career of head coach Jim Kessler with the revealing of the national poll on Monday.
Grace was ranked no. 17 in the NAIA with 211 votes, the second-highest total in the Mid-Central College Conference. Altogether, the MCC placed three teams in the Top 25, and three others are receiving votes. The men will hope to return to the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 season, where they completed the second of back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.
The Lancers, who finished last season 17-16, will have a potent offense led by junior forward Duke Johnson. The 6’11 post player was named MCC All-Conference Third Team after averaging 14.3 ppg and 8.1 rpg last year. He will be joined by sharpshooting guards David Henry, Elliot Smith and transfer Bruce Grimm, Jr.
Grimm comes to Grace highly touted as the 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball Runner-up during his high school career at Rochester High School. Grimm played one season and started five games at NCAA Division I East Tennessee State University, where they advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year.