Pictured is Elijah Malone celebrating a pivotal dunk late in Grace's win on Saturday in the Crossroads League Tournament semifinals
Pictured is Elijah Malone celebrating a pivotal dunk late in Grace's win on Saturday in the Crossroads League Tournament semifinals
WINONA LAKE - Elijah Malone powered Grace’s men’s basketball team to a dramatic semifinal win in overtime on Saturday.

Malone produced a career-high 34 points and nine rebounds in a memorable performance, lifting the Lancers to a 96-90 overtime victory over Marian in the Crossroads League Tournament.

As the No. 1 seed, Grace will host the Crossroads League Tournament championship on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against NAIA No. 15-ranked Huntington.

It marks the second straight season that Grace will compete for the tournament title after winning the tourney last year as the No. 5 seed. Grace is hosting the tournament championship for the second time in program history; the Lancers won the title at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center in 2012.

The NAIA No. 4-ranked Lancers, now 27-3 overall, have won nine straight contests. Their last defeat was to Huntington, who is enjoying an 11-game winning streak.

The MOCC was packed and rowdy throughout Saturday’s affair, properly setting the stage for the high-profile matchup.

Grace struggled to slow down Marian at the onset. The Knights scored 16 points across the first six minutes and held a slight edge.

Grace found its offense down low through the post play of Elijah Malone. He scored nine of Grace’s first 12 points as a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Frankie Davidson then provided a boost from outside, drilling two quick 3-pointers to put the Lancers on top 18-16 and force a Marian timeout.

The rest of the half was a battle. Neither side led by more than six points with Grace holding the largest lead at 32-26.

The Knights managed to claw ahead over the final minutes of the half. Marian was lethal from the outside, which helped the Knights erase Grace’s lead quickly.

Marian held Grace scoreless for the final 1:48, and the Knights seized a 41-40 lead at halftime.

The Knights shot 50 percent (7 of 14) on 3-pointers before the half. Marian also turned the ball over just once.

Grace shot well in the half, hitting 65 percent of its shots and made 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.

Malone had 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting in the half, and Davidson added nine more.

Malone began the second half with a statement. The center slammed the first two baskets through the rim to bring the Lancer crowd to its feet.

The teams played evenly for the next eight minutes, and the game was knotted at 57-57 with 11:20 on the clock.

But Grace’s defense stepped up and held MU scoreless for almost five minutes.

Malone poured in seven unanswered points, including an and-1 to give Grace a seven-point edge.

A triple from Davidson was followed up by another basket by Malone as Grace opened up a 69-57 cushion with 7:31 to play.

The veteran Knight squad did not panic. Marian chopped Grace’s lead down to four with three minutes remaining, and a steal and a 3-pointer made Grace’s lead just one at 76-75 with 2:40 remaining.

Jake Wadding scored a much-needed offensive putback on the next possession, and Grace still held a three-point edge with one minute to go.

Marian scored in the paint with 30 seconds to play, and Grace hit 1 of 2 from the foul line.

The Knights had one possession to tie the game, and the visitors did just that. Christian Harvey missed his first try but managed to score the putback attempt with 4.7 seconds on the clock to tie the score. Davidson raced down and tried a contested 3-pointer, but his effort glanced off the front of the rim to send the game to overtime.

The teams traded points for the first two minutes of OT, but Grace largely centered its half court attack through the post. The tactic paid off as Marian was forced to foul the Lancers.

Malone scored four points in a row to give the Lancers a four-point advantage at 90-86.

Grace took care of the rest from the foul line, hitting six free throws in the final 1:04 to ice the win.

The Lancers scored 10 of their 15 overtime points from the free throw stripe, shooting 10 of 12 on free throws in the extra period.

Malone’s career day saw the center shoot 12 of 15 from the floor, 1 of 3 on 3s and 9 of 9 from the free throw line. He also drew 11 fouls as the Knights struggled to contain him.

Jakob Gibbs went off for 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, making 7 of 11 from the floor.

Davidson was efficient as well. He made four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, 4 boards, 3 assists and 2 blocks.

Cade Gibbs and Wadding each finished with seven points, and Carter Stoltzfus had 4 points, 5 boards and 3 assists.

Brycen Graber produced 3 points, 4 assists and 2 key second-half steals, and Ian Scott added 3 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds.

Grace finished the game shooting 56 percent as a team overall and 40 percent on 3s.

Saturday was also special as freshman Hagen Knepp made an appearance on Grace’s bench. Knepp has been at home during his battle with cancer since the preseason but was able to return to cheer on the Lancers from the bench on Saturday. Prior to the game, Knepp was introduced and received a warm standing ovation of support from the crowd at the MOCC.

The Lancers are guaranteed at least two more postseason home games. Grace will host Tuesday’s league tournament championship as well as at least one NAIA National Tournament game. Grace was selected as a host site for the NAIA First and Second Rounds (presented by Ballogy) earlier this week. The MOCC will host those games on March 7-8. The teams will be announced on Thursday, March 2.

Lady Lancers Fall In Conference Semifinals

INDIANAPOLIS - Grace College’s women’s basketball dropped its semifinal matchup in the Crossroads League tournament 68-49 to Marian on Friday night.

The Lady Lancers season is not over as Grace will now await a potential at-large bid into the NAIA National Tournament. The NAIA will unveil the full 64-team field on Thursday.

In the early stages of the contest Grace (21-9,13-5 CL) worked the ball inside and converted on the first two possessions.

Karlee Feldman got the game started with a tough layup through traffic and Kiersten Findley followed suit as Grace took a quick 4-0 lead.

Feldman and Findley continued to trade scores for the Lady Lancers and at the midpoint of the frame Grace held a 10-6 lead.

The Knights (26-4, 15-3 CL) took their first lead of the game amidst a 9-0 run as the Lady Lancers began to turn the ball over. Grace committed six turnovers in the final five minutes of the first quarter.

Kate Rulli scored just before the end of the quarter after corralling an offensive rebound and laying in the ensuing shot.

The Knights five-point lead at the quarter break quickly turned into a nine-point lead as Grace struggled to solve Marian’s stout defense.

Maddie Ryman broke the seal on the Lady Lancers basket at the 5:36 mark of the quarter to draw Grace back within eight points.

Ryman’s trifecta seemed to energize the junior guard as she scored eight straight points for Grace.

Grace was unable to reel in Marian as the Knights offense continued to hum at an efficient rate, sending Grace into halftime down 32-21.

Grace shot at a 32 percent rate while Marian converted on 50 percent of their shots. The Lady Lancers committed 13 turnovers in the first half.

The Knights continued their impressive offensive showing with a 3-point shot to start the second half.

Grace’s first points of the quarter came from a pair of Feldman free throws as the Lady Lancers tried to keep pace with the surging Knights.

A 6-0 burst briefly gave the Lady Lancers life, but Grace couldn’t cool Marian’s hot shooting as the Knights continued to hit at an alarming rate.

Grace trailed by as many as 18 in the quarter and trailed by 50-34 deficit entering the final stanza.

Peyton Murphy scored the first four points of the final quarter as Grace tried to muster a late comeback.

The Lady Lancers narrowed the deficit to 12 points on a pair of occasions, but were unable to draw any closer as they fell by a final score of 68-49.

“Took one on the chin tonight,” said Grace head coach Dan Davis. “Gotta give Marian credit for being the aggressor and dictating both sides of the ball. They scored 28 points off of our turnovers and that was the difference in the game. We won’t beat ourselves up too much over this one, but there are still some things that we can take from tonight as we look towards the national tournament. Grace finished the game shooting 33 percent compared to Marian's 51 percent. The Lady Lancers turned the ball over 20 times which the Knights capitalized on to the tune of 28 points.

Murphy led Grace with 13 rebounds, she also chipped in seven rebounds and two assists.

Ryman poured in 12 points and Feldman scored 10 points while also grabbing seven rebounds.

Lancers Celebrate Home Opener With Two Wins

WINONA LAKE - Hunter Schumacher became the career saves leader as Grace’s baseball team closed out its series against Trinity Christian at Miller Athletic Complex on Saturday.

The Lancers (8-3) produced 17 runs across two games on a chilly afternoon to kick off the home slate, winning 6-3 and 11-5.

Neither team had much going in the first three innings. The Trolls tried to be aggressive the few times they had runners on, but catcher Josh Cosme nabbed a runner attempting to steal and reliever Steven Hernandez picked off another.

Grace broke the scoreless draw with a three-spot in the fourth, scoring all three runs with two outs. Bradyn McIntosh led off the inning with a double. After a walk to Sean Gannon, Cosme laced a double to left, scoring two. John Joyce followed with a single to add another run.

The Lancers added two more insurance runs in the fifth to push ahead 5-0. Keenan LeBlanc came around to score on a wild pitch after a leadoff double. Sam Newkirk added his ninth RBI of the season two batters later.

TCC chipped away at the deficit in the sixth with three runs in the inning, but that was as close as the Trolls would get.

Grace added its final run in the bottom half on a passed ball to score Keenan LeBlanc.

Hunter Schumacher pitched the seventh to close the door and earn the save. He converted his seventh career save to etch his name in the record book. Steven Hernandez recorded the win with 4.2 innings of relief, allowing three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.

Josh Cosme went 1 for 3 with 2 RBI, and LeBlanc recorded the only multi-hit game for the Lancers with a 2 for 3 line and 2 runs.

Down 4-1 early in the second game, Grace responded in a big way, adding six runs to flip the script.

Maximo De Leon drove an RBI triple to the right field gap to plate LeBlanc. Jeff Pawlik tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly. Newkirk followed with a two-run moonshot to left. The next two batters reached safely, causing the Trolls to make a pitching change. John Joyce took the next pitch over the right field fence to give Grace the lead for good.

Newkirk belted his second dinger of the game in the fifth, and Gavin Kelley produced an RBI single.

The final tallies of the game came in the sixth. Pawlik had an RBI groundout, and Newkirk scampered home on a wild pitch.

Caleb Davis started the game, going 3.0 innings with three strikeouts in a no decision. The pitcher of record, Elijah Bruns, earned the victory with 2.0 innings of relief.

The Lancers had six extra base hits in the second game. Pawlik contributed 3 RBI and a walk. De Leon, McIntosh and Newkirk each had 2 hits.

Grace is set to start Crossroads League play next week with a four-game series against Indiana Wesleyan. The first two games will be on the road and the final two games will be at Miller Athletic Complex on March 4, starting at 1 p.m.