Grace College’s decorated senior class ended their basketball careers on a high note, defeating Trinity International 91-87 in the third-place game of the NCCAA National Championships.
The Lancers end the season with a 21-14 record. Grace’s senior class advanced to a national tournament in every year, including a run to the NAIA Final Four in 2013 and the NCCAA championship game in 2014. Graduating this year are Kyle Fillman, Drew Perrin, Brandon Vanderhegghen, Caleb Featherston and Logan Irwin.
The first half was tightly contested throughout. Neither team led by more than five points, and there were five lead changes before halftime.
Irwin was Grace’s driving force in the first half. He scored 17 points on nine shots.
The teams were nearly identical statistically in the first half. Grace made 15 shots and shot 45 percent from the floor, and TIU made 15 shots and shot 44 percent.
Three minutes into the second half, Grace used a pivotal 8-0 run to go ahead by four. Kyle Fillman scored the final six points of Grace’s run, doing so in a span of 35 seconds.
Three minutes later, Grace went on another run. The Lancers outscored TIU 13-2 over nearly five minutes of action, sparked by consecutive and-1’s by Bowen and Tre Olive. Another basket from Olive gave Grace a 71-61 lead with 8:55 remaining.
The Trojans (20-14) battled back, however. TIU slowly whittled away at Grace’s cushion, cutting it down to three points with 2:55 to play. Grace still led by three points with under a minute to play when Logan Irwin buried a deep 3-pointer to give the Lancers some breathing room.
Grace secured the win from the free throw line. The Lancers hit five foul shots in the last 19 seconds, including four by Chad Hoffer, to win by four.
Grace had six players score in double figures and two earn double-doubles. Irwin led all players with a season-high 24 points and five assists. Fillman was nearly perfect from the floor with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
Brandon Vanderhegghen ended with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and Bowen also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
Hoffer (13 points) and Olive (10) were key contributors off the bench.
The Lancers hit 55 percent from the floor in the second half and 50 percent overall.