Grace sophomore Martin Schiele maneuvers to get his shot off over the Bluefield defense during the second half. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Grace sophomore Martin Schiele maneuvers to get his shot off over the Bluefield defense during the second half. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
WINONA LAKE – “We weren’t bad, we just weren’t as good as they were.”

That’s how veteran Grace College men’s basketball coach Jim Kessler summed up his team’s shooting performance in a 77-74 loss to Bluefield College Wednesday evening in the first round of the NCCAA National Championships.

The Lancers, the hosts and the fifth-seeded team in the eight-team men’s side of the tournament, shot 38 percent from the field overall, 10 of 29 from three-point range, and 16 of 19 at the free throw line.

Kessler, who is stepping down at conclusion of this week’s tournament, which wraps up his 42nd season as the Lancers’ head coach, wasn’t upset about the shots his players got.

He was, however, a little befuddled his team’s shots didn’t fall through the hoop at a higher percentage.

“Some of the people we rely on to make shots, they just didn’t drop tonight,” said Kessler, whose team is now 16-16.

“How many times does Logan (Godfrey) go 3 of 15? He doesn’t do that. Charlie (Warner) is a very good free throw shooter ... he’s a very good shooter. In the first half he struggled, the second half he was a little better. You have to make shots. I thought we moved it well.”

Sophomore Haden Deaton, junior Charlie Warner and senior Logan Godfrey make up a lot of Grace’s offense game in and game out.

Wednesday night they combined for 50 of the Lancers’ 74 points, but they were 15 of 45 from the field collectively.

Deaton was 6 of 15 from the field, but made 7 of 9 free throw attempts en route to a game-high 22 points.

Warner was also 6 of 15, but was 4 of 4 at the charity stripe, scoring 19 points.

Godfrey was 3 of 15 from the field and finished the game with nine points and eight boards.

Sophomore Martin Schiele came off the bench to make 4 of 5 shots from the field and score 12 points, while junior Jaret Sons chipped in with eight points.

While the Lancers struggled to find their shooting touch on their own floor, the fourth-seeded Bluefield College Rams made themselves right at home, particularly in the second half.

The Rams were 14 of 35 overall and 5 of 14 from the arc in the first half, but improved considerably in the second half, making 16 of 27 overall and 7 of 11 from three-point range after the intermission.

After a three-pointer by Warner put the Lancers up 35-33 early in the second half, the Rams responded with a 14-0 run.

The Lancers, who trailed by 12 in the first half and answered with a 17-0 run, fought back again in the second half.

The game was tied 65-65 with 5:57 remaining.

Warner made a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left to cut the deficit to one at 75-74.

Jeremiah Jenkins pushed Bluefield’s lead back to three with a pair of charity tosses, and Deaton’s three-pointer that would have tied the game in the waning seconds was off the mark.

“We had our chances. We had some good looks. Haden had a good look at the end,” said Kessler.

Jorge Concepcion was 9 of 12 from the field and led the Rams with 20 points, while Niquan Cousins was 7 of 12 en route to 19 points.

Jenkins and Ty’quon Reid scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, and Brandon Shields chipped in with nine points.

With the loss, the Lancers fell into the consolation bracket and were scheduled to play Nebraska Christian today at 10:15 a.m.

In other first-round men’s games Wednesday, third-seeded Hannibal-LaGrange University beat No. 6 seed Columbia International University 78-77, second-seeded Roberts Wesleyan College topped No. 7 seed Piedmont International University 70-60, and No. 1 seed Cedarville University beat Nebraska Christian 80-58.