Photo of Frankie Davidson making a basket against IWU. Davidson had a game-high 21 points in Grace's semifinal win on Saturday
Photo of Frankie Davidson making a basket against IWU. Davidson had a game-high 21 points in Grace's semifinal win on Saturday
MARION - Grace’s men’s basketball team led from start to finish at No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan in the Crossroads League Tournament semifinals.

The Lancers took down the top-seeded Wildcats to win 84-76 on Saturday.

As a result, Grace will play in the tournament championship at No. 12 Marian on Tuesday. The Lancers and Knights will tip off at 7 p.m. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships.

Grace is searching for its first tournament championship since 2012.

Frankie Davidson led all players with 21 points to go along with six rebounds.

The Lancers (24-8) were impressive defensively on Saturday; the Wildcats (26-6) were held to 42 percent shooting compared to Grace’s 56 percent shooting.

Grace flexed its muscles in the paint, outrebounding the Wildcats by four with 10 offensive boards. The Lancers also outscored IWU in the paint 42-32.

Grace began the game with the lead thanks to a triple by Jakob Gibbs. And the Lancers remained in front for the rest of the game.

The Lancers shared the ball well at the onset with six assists on their first eight made field goals. Elijah Malone was a force early with five quick points, including a 3-pointer.

Grace exposed IWU’s early zone defense with smart passing and sharp cutting. Cade Gibbs converted back-to-back shots at the rim, forcing the Wildcats to burn an early timeout as Grace led 20-10.

The Wildcats kept Grace within range, pulling to within three at 25-22 after an and-1. IWU eventually knotted the score at 31-31 after a series of offensive foul calls were made against Grace.

But the Lancers showed resolve, producing five tough points. The spurt was capped off by a flashy fastbreak, ending with a clever pass by Jake Wadding which led to a dunk from Cade Gibbs.

With a minute left, Wadding blocked IWU’s attempted dunk which preserved the Lancers’ lead. Grace went into halftime with a 36-35 lead.

The Lancers shot 54 percent from the field compared to 42 percent for the Wildcats. Both teams had eight turnovers. Grace made just 55 percent of its free throws (6 of 11).

Grace had balanced scoring in the first half with nine different players scoring a point. Cade Gibbs led Grace in scoring with eight points.

The Lancers maintained the lead to begin the second half. Back-to-back scores from Frankie Davidson put Grace ahead by seven at 46-39 with 16:41 remaining.

The Wildcats clawed back to within two, but Malone buried a timely 3-pointer to give Grace another five-point edge.

The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes with the Lancers refusing to surrender the lead.

Grace’s defense was airtight in the second half. The Lancers did not allow IWU to make a field goal for over four minutes.

As a result, a layup from Davidson put Grace ahead 66-60 with 3:20 to play. Soon after, IWU was whistled for a technical foul.

Davidson promptly sank both free throws to extend Grace’s lead to eight at 68-60.

The Wildcats hit a 3-pointer, but Jakob Gibbs responded with a triple of his own to reassert Grace’s eight-point cushion with 2:40 on the clock.

Davidson also buried a critical 3-pointer a minute later to keep momentum on Grace’s side.

IWU managed to grab points late at the foul line. The Wildcats made five free throws in a two-minute span to keep in range of Grace.

Grace responded in kind as IWU was forced to foul. The Lancers sank enough free throws down the stretch to lock in the victory. In the closing minute Ian Scott hustled his way to an offensive rebound after a missed free throw, a fitting show of heart for Grace on the road.

All five starters scored at least nine points for the Lancers. Jakob Gibbs had 13 points, and Wadding had 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.

Malone finished with 11 points and two assists, and Eddie Gill IV had 9 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.

Cade Gibbs produced eight points and two steals while making all four of his field goals, and Scott tallied 6 points, 6 boards, 2 assist, 1 block and 1 steal.