Eddie Gill IV driving for the Lancers in Kansas City on Thursday
Eddie Gill IV driving for the Lancers in Kansas City on Thursday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The storybook postseason run for Grace’s men’s basketball team found its final chapter on Thursday.

The No. 7 seed Lancers fell 71-66 to the College of Idaho in the Round of 16 in the NAIA National Championships.

The Lancers end a memorable season with a 27-9 record. Grace won the 2022 Crossroads League Tournament championship and won the NAIA Opening Round pod at Olivet Nazarene to clinch a “Sweet Sixteen” berth in Kansas City.

Grace’s 27 wins are the most in a single season since 1991-92. Only two other campaigns (1991-92, 1987-88) saw the Lancers win more games in a season.

Grace played well defensively, holding Idaho to 37-percent shooting for the game.

But the Lancers hurt their own cause dramatically. Grace shot 47 percent as a team from the floor but turned the ball over 18 times. The Lancers also shot just 12 of 25 (48 percent) on free throws.

The Lancers got on the scoreboard when Eddie Gill IV scored on the opening possession.

The teams traded buckets in the early stages; the Yotes (32-4) were on the mark from deep, hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the early going.

The Yotes tried to pull away with a 20-12 lead, but Ian Scott scored back-to-back buckets to keep Grace within range.

But Grace hit a slow stretch offensively. Grace scored just three points during a seven-minute stretch, and the Yotes managed to earn a 10-point lead at 27-17.

Elijah Malone was Grace’s best offensive force in the half, scoring against a variety of defensive looks in the paint.

The Lancers closed the gap slightly before halftime and trailed 35-28 as the teams entered the intermission.

Grace shot much better than Idaho in the first half, making 48 percent from the floor compared to the Yotes’ 40 percent.

The Lancers struggled mightily from the free throw line, however, shooting just 3 of 11 (27 percent). Grace also lost the turnover battle 9-2.

Malone tied for most points in the half with eight points, and Scott had six points and four boards.

The Lancers charged out of the locker room with five quick points, including a triple by Jakob Gibbs and an acrobatic layup by Jake Wadding. Wadding’s reverse layup trimmed Grace’s deficit to four, forcing the Yotes to burn a quick timeout.

Gill made another crafty layup, and Malone laid in a basket on a fastbreak to tie the score at 37-37.

The Lancers continued to score at will. Gill and Frankie Davidson scored on consecutive plays, pushing Grace on top 41-39 with 16 minutes remaining.

A minute later, Malone threw down a thunderous one-handed slam to maintain Grace’s lead.

The Yotes calmly responded, however, scoring nine unanswered to regain the lead at 50-43 with 12 minutes on the clock.

The Lancers struggled to puncture Idaho’s cushion and faced a 63-53 deficit with 3:20 remaining.

Grace’s defense locked up the Yotes down the stretch, allowing the Lancers to get in striking distance. The Yotes came up empty on four straight possessions, and Grace edged to within five after a layup from Malone with 1:11 left to play.

But Grace’s free throw woes showed up again as the Lancers missed three more foul shots over the final 49 seconds.

Malone finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Wadding had 10 points and five boards, and Davidson and Gill each scored nine. Gill had six assists, and Davidson grabbed six rebounds. Gibbs scored seven with a pair of 3-pointers.