A fast break jam by Caleb Featherston put the exclamation mark on Grace’s men’s basketball team’s convincing 81-71 win over Colorado Christian in the first game of the NCCAA National Championships held at Grace.
The Lancers (19-14) will play in the national semifinals on Thursday 8:45 p.m. against No. 6 Roberts Wesleyan at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.
Greg Miller, Logan Irwin and Jared Treadway starred for Grace on Wednesday as Miller led all players with 24 points. Irwin tallied 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and eight assists, and Treadway produced a double-double of 10 points and 12 boards.
Colorado Christian, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, ripped off 40 points in the first half as the Cougars (17-14) nailed 56 percent of their field goals. A 3-pointer from Michael Brown lifted CCU to a 36-25 lead with less than six minutes on the clock.
But the Lancers turned the game around over the final six minutes of the half. Grace’s 17-4 run to close the half turned an 11-point deficit into a 42-40 lead as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Midway into the second half, Grace used an 11-2 spurt to increase its lead to double figures. A 3-pointer from Niko Read and a three-point play from Miller sparked Grace’s charge.
The Cougars were unable to claw back into contention. A breakaway dunk by Caleb Featherston accentuated Grace’s strong second-half performance and sent the packed MOCC crowd into a frenzied state.
As a team Grace outrebounded Colorado Christian by eight. The Lancers also stifled the Cougars into 30-percent shooting after halftime, while Grace made 52 percent of its shots in the second half. Grace held a commanding 40-16 advantage in points scored inside the paint.
Brandon Vanderhegghen tallied 10 points and seven rebounds, Read added nine points off the bench, and Featherston chipped in seven points.
Additionally, Grace’s win gave head coach Jim Kessler 698 career victories at the helm of the Lancers’ program.