Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grinnell back in action with a W

After nearly a month off for the holidays -- at least from games -- the NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell returned to the court with a tough 98-93 victory over Beloit on Wednesday night in Midwest Conference play at Darby Gymnasium. Griffin Lentsch led way with 22 points, Matt Skelly had 21 and Matt Chalupa scored 14 of his 17 in the first half for the Pioneers (7-3, 2-3 MWC).

Freshman Aaron Levin added 13 points and made two clutch free throws with with 29 seconds remaining in the game to give Grinnell that 98-93 lead. Beloit's Michael Horton turned it over on the other end, and despite Skelly missing a pair at the line, the Pioneers hung on.

Kind of a weird game for The System. At the half, Grinnell led 63-51, well on pace for a typical scoring game. And the Buccaneers (3-7, 2-3) finished the opening 20 minutes with 19 turnovers, so the pressure clearly was having an effect. It was much the same after the break, with the Pioneers sprinting to an 17-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game thanks to Chalupa's only points of the half, a 3-pointer to make it 84-67.

So, let's see, 84 points with 12 minutes left, after scoring 21 points in the first 8 minutes. Pretty nice. Not sure what happened after that, since Grinnell managed only 14 points the rest of the way. Not bad for most teams, just not on the usual pace of the nation's highest-scoring team.

Oh, well, at least coach David Arseneault and his team came up with a W in their return to the court. Here are your Formula numbers:

- Attempted 75 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 43 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 36 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 31 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted five more shots than Beloit (goal is 25)

I tend to look at most things, particularly my favorite men's college team, with a "glass-half-full" approach, so it's striking that the Pioneers won this game while failing to reach four of the five goals. Remember, when they reach all five, they win about 95 percent of the time.

Coach A and the boys have a little more time off, getting back at it on the road at Illinois College (7-2, 3-1) on Tuesday night. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST, and you know I'll be following the action. Good luck, Grinnell.

Also on Wednesday, the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State had its five-game winning streak come to an end on the road at Shepherd University in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Rams won 102-93, holding off a furious rally by coach Bunky Harkleroad's bunch.

The Pioneers (8-4, 6-1 WVIAC) trailed 73-55 with 14:26 left in the game after Shepherd's Hannah Safren completed a personal 5-0 run with a 3-pointer. The margin still was 11 about 7 minutes later before Glenville State really turned it on -- a 12-2 spurt cut that to a single point, thanks to eights points from Danielle Woodmore.

It was nip and tuck over the next few minutes, with the Pioneers getting within one again at 94-93 with about 90 seconds remaining on LaToya Hambrick's layup. But the Rams (8-3, 6-1) went 8-for-8 at the line down the stretch to complete the scoring, with Glenville State unable to add to its total.

Great comeback for Coach Harkleroad and his team, just too bad they couldn't quite complete it. Here are the goals:

- Attempted 93 shots
- Attempted 29 3-pointers (made only five)
- Rebounded 36 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 30 turnovers
- Attempted 23 more shots than Shepherd

Next up for the Pioneers is another road game, this time at West Liberty, at 5-0 the only remaining team unbeaten in the conference. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST. The best of luck to them.

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