Grace’s run through the 2014 Crossroads League Tournament will continue to the championship game thanks to the Lancers’ 68-67 win over Spring Arbor on Saturday.
The Lancers (18-13) sit one game away from an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships. Grace will travel to archrival Bethel on Tuesday 7 p.m. for the CL Tournament title.
Four players reached double figures in scoring for Grace on Saturday, led by Greg Miller’s stat line of 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks.
Although Grace led from start to finish, Saturday’s result was far from a guaranteed win for the Lancers.
The Lancers got off to a blazing start, ripping off a 14-0 run after tipoff. Niko Read buried two 3-pointers, Caleb Featherston hit another, and Jared Treadway finished an old-fashioned 3-point play to spark Grace’s run.
Grace’s offense could not maintain that rate of production, however, as the Lancers scored just two points over the next six minutes. Spring Arbor rallied late in the period with nine unanswered points, but Grace still earned a 30-24 lead at halftime.
The second half was much of the same as the Lancers held a 5-12 point lead until the final minutes. A basket from Miller lifted Grace to a 60-53 advantage with 2:28 remaining, but the Cougars (12-20) sliced the Lancers’ cushion to three points a few possessions later.
Treadway scored three big points in the final minute, hitting a rebound putback with 50 seconds on the clock and a free throw with 25 seconds left that each time pushed Grace’s lead to two possessions.
Although Grace largely struggled from the free throw line in the second half – hitting just 11-of-22 from the line – Brandon Vanderhegghen and Miller sealed Grace’s semifinal win by going 4-for-4 in the last 12 seconds.
A desperation 3-pointer from the Cougars’ Rob Hogans brought Spring Arbor to within one point with one second left to play, but Grace inbounded the ball deep down the court to run out the clock. Hogans led all players with 28 points in his final collegiate game.
Treadway finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists in a strong showing, and Read buried four 3’s for 14 points. Vanderhegghen scored 12 points off the bench, and Featherston added eight points.
As a team the Lancers outrebounded the Cougars by nine. Grace also held Spring Arbor to 39 percent shooting for the game.