Pictured is Jakob Gibbs scored two of his 16 points during Grace's win over Freed-Hardeman during the Lancers win on Tuesday
Pictured is Jakob Gibbs scored two of his 16 points during Grace's win over Freed-Hardeman during the Lancers win on Tuesday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Grace’s men’s basketball team kept its dancing shoes on, advancing in the NAIA National Tournament with an 86-67 victory over Freed-Hardeman on Tuesday.

The Lancers (31-3) earned their third straight double-digit win to begin the NAIA tournament.

Grace advanced to play in the NAIA national quarterfinals on Wednesday at 5 p.m. (Central Time) against Georgetown, ranked No. 8 in the NAIA Top 25.

During Tuesday’s win, Grace shot a sizzling 61 percent from the floor and put five players in double figures for scoring.

Grace began the game well, scoring on its first three possessions with two hoops from Jakob Gibbs and a dunk from Elijah Malone.

Malone was a force early on, dunking twice and swatting two shots before the first media timeout.

The Lancers excelled on offense with their shot selection, shooting 80 percent from the floor through 13 minutes of play.

Midway into the half, Grace opened up a six-point lead thanks to back-to-back layups from Ian Scott and Jake Wadding. A 3-pointer from Brett Sickafoose pushed Grace’s lead up to seven.

But turnover issues did not allow the Lancers to pull away until later. Grace had turnovers on three straight plays to allow Freed-Hardeman to close the gap.

The Lancers had one big spurt left to close the half, however. Grace scored on four straight possessions, beginning with triples from Jakob Gibbs and Frankie Davidson and finishing with scores from Wadding and Malone.

Two more free throws in the final second of the half helped the Lancers race into halftime with a 42-32 lead.

For the half, Grace shot 59 percent from the floor while holding the Lions to 36 percent.

Malone powered his way to 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting in the half, and Jakob Gibbs added 12 points with two triples. Grace assisted on 11 of its 16 made shots, led by four dimes from Frankie Davidson.

Grace again began the second half as the aggressor. Cade Gibbs scored five quick points to increase Grace’s cushion to 17 at 49-32.

But the Lancers’ attack sputtered over the next six minutes to allow the Lions to roar back. Grace missed four shots and turned the ball over five times during that span, allowing Freed-Hardeman to nearly erase its deficit. With 10:30 on the clock, Grace’s lead had dwindled to three at 57-54.

Over the course of the next four minutes, however, Grace flexed its muscles. The Lancers erupted with a 15-2 surge.

In typical Lancer style, the scoring was spread out with Wadding tallying six points, Ian Scott scoring five, and Cade Gibbs adding four during the run.

The Lions had little left in reserve as they faced another double-digit cushion. Grace made certain of its win with a thunderous dunk from Malone and a fastbreak layup from Davidson over the final minutes.

Another dunk from Cade Gibbs with two minutes left put the exclamation mark on Grace’s win. The Lions were held scoreless for the final 2:35 of regulation.

“Our guys have worked really hard to get back to Kansas City for the second year in a row. Freed-Hardeman is very similar to us and gave us a battle throughout. Thankfully we made enough stops at the end to extend our lead and advance,” said Grace head coach Scott Moore.

Malone led a balanced lineup with 19 points, 6 blocked shots and 5 rebounds; he shot 8 of 11 from the floor.

Jakob Gibbs amassed 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, and Cade Gibbs had 14 points and four boards on 6 of 7 shooting.

Frankie Davidson finished with 11 points, 6 boards and 4 assists, Wadding had a double-double with 11 points, 12 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes, and Ian Scott had 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks in 19 minutes.

Carter Stoltzfus and Brycen Graber combined for five assists and three steals.

Grace held the Lions to 34 percent shooting, helping overcome Grace’s 18 turnovers. The Lancers also grabbed 14 more rebounds (40 to 26) and assisted on 24 of their 33 made field goals.

The Lancers enjoyed having freshman Hagen Knepp on the sidelines during the win. Knepp, who has been battling cancer since the team’s preseason, was recently profiled by columnist Gregg Doyel from the Indianapolis Star earlier on Tuesday morning.