Kissimmee, FL – The NCCAA #4 Grace Tigers opened up their classic at Johnson University-Florida with a match-up with NCCAA #1 Randall University, who has defeated them the past two seasons at the NCCAA tournament. Unsurprisingly, the Saints and Tigers would go wire-to-wire as they have in their past few meetings to result in the developing rivalry.
The first half was very sluggish for both teams offensively, with turnovers and missed shots being the result of the majority of the possessions. The Saints would go into the break leading 28-27. Randall would flip a switch at the beginning of the second half, creating momentum immediately and extending their lead to 59-47 with 11 minutes to go in the game. The Tigers would turn things around at this point and chip away at the lead, trimming it all the way to one point and setting the stage for an exciting finish.
With under 15 seconds remaining, the Tigers had the ball and were down two points. They would unfortunately throw a turnover as nothing came to fruition on the out-of-bounds play. They forced a turnover on the next possession from Randall, only to be matched with another turnover of their own to allow the Saints to regain possession and knock down two free throws to go up 68-64 and seal the victory. The final score would end 68-66 after a basket from Grace to finish the game.
“We continue to lose games because we don’t take care of the ball,” commented Head Coach Gary Bailey. “Randall is a great team and you can see why they are the reigning National Champion. Until we get over our inability to take care of the ball we will not close out games like this, like we should.”
Senior center Adam Rayner led the Tigers with 15 points on 6-7 shooting from the field. Brandon Winchester-Jones and Caleb Anderson both pitched in 10 points. Winchester-Jones had a team-high 4 assists and 4 steals.
The Tigers return to action tonight at 8:00 pm against the host school, Johnson University-Florida.
Kissimmee, FL – The Grace men’s basketball team prevailed in their final two games of their Florida trip, defeating host Johnson University-Florida and NCCAA #8 Trinity Baptist College.
The Tigers would need overtime against the Suns of Johnson University-Florida, but would dominate the final five minute period for an 84-76 victory over the host school. Senior Joe Dekkenga led the Tigers with 15 points. Sophomore Brandon Winchester-Jones scored 12 points while dishing out a career-high 11 assists. Senior Adam Rayner recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers played a very solid first 20 minutes in their final game of the week against Trinity Baptist College out of Jacksonville, Florida. However, a very rough stretch to begin the second half would result in a huge run for Trinity and a double-digit deficit for Grace. They would claw their way back with some passionate play in the final 10 minutes of the game, going on a 24-2 run at one point to help pull off a 10-point win in the top-10 battle. Junior Grant Garrison led the Tigers with 17 points, followed by Brandon Winchester-Jones with 15 points. Junior Marcus Chandler provided a great spark off the bench with 13 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.
The Tigers move to 10-14 on the year thus far, 3-2 in the NCCAA DII. They will have this week off before returning to the hardcourt next Tuesday at home against Great Lakes Christian College.