Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grinnell continues dominating play

Remember the comeback from Grinnell's most recent game? You know, down by 25 at the half, rally to take a late lead in regulation only to see the game head to overtime, then dominate overtime on its way to a victory? Right, that one. Well, coach David Arseneault pointed to this as a possible "season saver" in a post on the Yahoo! message board devoted to The System.

Game 1 of the rest of the season went like clockwork.

Griffin Lentsch made 10 3-pointers and had 32 points, five other players reached double figures in scoring and Scott Kaitz had 10 assists to help the NCAA Division III Pioneers roll past Monmouth 133-92 in the Midwest Conference on Wednesday night. Matt Chalupa, Matt Skelly, Dominique Bellamy and Aaron Levin all finished with 17 points and Patrick Maher added 10 for Grinnell (10-6, 5-6 MWC), which boasts consecutive conference victories for the first time this season.

Part of me wanted to write that this one was over at the halftime, when the Pioneers took a 71-40 lead. Of course, given that huge comeback over the weekend at Lawrence, nothing is for sure, but Grinnell did what it had to do in the final 20 minutes. Here are the numbers for the game:

- Attempted 89 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 59 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 41 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 29 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 15 more shots than the the Fighting Scots (3-13, 1-10)

The Pioneers trailed took control with a 20-5 run in the first half, then completed the domination by outscoring Monmouth 16-5 over the final 4:18 leading into the break. The final 20 minutes was more of the same, with the margin reaching 45 points on Lentsch's final 3 with about 3 minutes remaining in the game.

The solid play is coming just in time for Grinnell, which is seventh in the MWC with only the top four teams qualifying for the conference tournament. But it's a tight race for that final spot, with Lawrence, a team with two losses to the Pioneers, currently holding it with a 7-4 mark. That's a two-game difference, with Illinois College and Lake Forest tied for fifth at 6-5.

Grinnell has one game left against Illinois College and two with Lake Forest, including one Saturday in the friendly confines of Darby Gymnasium, where the Pioneers are 7-1 this season. Game time is 4 p.m. EST, and I wish Coach A and the boys nothing but the best.

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