For a bit more than one half, Monmouth's strategy to slow down Grinnell worked. The Scots held ball on offense and forced the defense to chase, even with the traps, and employed a zone on defense to make the Pioneers take extra time each possession.
When Jon Calhoun made a layup slightly more than 2 minutes into the second half, Monmouth led 64-49. Yet Grinnell didn't get frazzled and eventually became even more aggressive on defense, while the offense started clicking with the high post player looking to score instead of simply pass. The result was a resounding victory for the Pioneers.
Aaron Levin made seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points, Patrick Maher dished out 12 assists and Grinnell rallied for a 107-99 victory Tuesday night in a Midwest Conference road game. Griffin Lentsch added 14 points, Jack Taylor finished with 12 and Joe Rogers tallied 10.
The slower pace held the Pioneers to 78 total shots, with 53 of those coming from beyond the arc. Brian McManamy and Jesse Ney each made three 3s as Grinnell finished with 20.
Luke Yeager's 3-pointer with 11:10 left in the game tied it at 72, and after the Scots went back up by four, the Pioneers took the lead for good on what I would call good, old-fashioned System hoops.
First, Levin made a 3 off an assist from Taylor to cut the deficit to a single point, then Taylor quickly got a steal. Cody Olson missed a jumper but Tague Zachary grabbed the offensive board. He passed to Levin, who missed from beyond the arc before Marquez Valdez corralled the ball off the rim. Valdez, as he has been coached, threw the ball back to Levin, and the time, his 3 swished through the net for a 78-76 lead for Grinnell.
Mind you, the entire time frame, from Levin's initial 3 to his final one, took about 45 seconds. That's a lot of action in less than a minute, but then again, that's why we love this style of play. Right?
And speaking of assists, the Pioneers had 30 of them on 35 baskets. That's a pretty impressive ratio.
Grinnell (6-1, 3-0 MWC) stays on the road in conference play, traveling to preseason favorite St. Norbert (3-2, 2-1) on Saturday. Game time is 4 p.m. EST.