Grace’s men’s basketball team picked up its first signature win of the season with a 57-53 upset of No. 20 Ashford on Saturday.
The Lancers (6-1), playing their second ranked team in as many days, suffered a challenging first half on the offensive end, struggling to make just 5-of-21 from the floor. But Grace recovered thanks to balanced production and a stingy defense for the four-point win.
While Grace’s offense struggled to 24 percent shooting, Grace’s defense was up to the task. Ashford was limited to 19 first-half points but still managed to hold a slight 19-18 lead entering halftime. The Saints made just 32 percent from the floor in the opening half.
On the first possession of the second half, Caleb Featherston made a steal and Kyle Fillman sank two free throws to put Grace on top 20-19. Grace did not trail the rest of the way.
The Lancers quickly opened up a six-point lead, but the Saints refused to fade. With less than nine minutes remaining, Grace made a 10-2 push to grab a 48-40 lead. Niko Read scored half of Grace’s points in that run as he and Logan Irwin buried back-to-back 3-pointers to force a timeout from Ashford.
Ashford made a late push in the final minute, capitalizing on Grace’s misses from the foul line to cut the deficit to 56-53 with 10 seconds remaining. Fillman made 1-of-2 of his free throws on the next possession, and Ashford turned the ball over on the next play to seal Grace’s upset win.
Grace’s offense was much more efficient in the second half, hitting 65 percent of its field goals and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Irwin netted a team-high 13 points with four assists, and Fillman added 11 points.
Dennis Williams’s well-rounded performance included 9 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, Caleb Featherston added 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, and Brandon Vanderhegghen scored eight points off the bench.
Grace’s next week will be action-packed. The Lancers will travel to NCAA Div. II University of Indianapolis on Wednesday for an exhibition at 7 p.m. Grace will then host the annual KCCCF Hoops for Hope Tournament at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center in a combined effort with the women’s basketball team. The Lancers will host Grace Bible College on Friday at 8 p.m.