Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Grinnell starts slowly, never can get it going in loss to Blueboys

First of all, each time I post something on a game featuring the NCAA Division III men's team from Illinois College, I can't help but think of this movie. And lest anyone think I'm picking on the Blueboys, they stuck it to my favorite team Tuesday night.

Nathan Kohler made 6-of-8 3-pointers and scored 28 points, Isaac Grapperhaus made all but two of his 12 shots and had 23 points and Illinois College held off Grinnell 123-114 at Darby Gym, a rare Midwest Conference home loss for the Pioneers.

And other rarities were present, too. The Blueboys finished 13-for-23 from beyond the arc, making only fewer 3 than Grinnell in 31 fewer attempts. Second-chance points, which includes offensive rebounding and other hustle plays, went Illinois College's way, too, 22-9, with the Pioneers getting back only 25 percent of their own misses.

When Grinnell did appear to right the ship, pulling within 92-89 with about 7 minutes remaining on a free throw from Jack Taylor, IC responded in a big way. Kohler swished a 3-pointer as he was fouled by Evan Johnson, and his free throw completed a four-point play for a seven-point lead.

Jesse Ney missed from deep on the ensuing possession, and after Patrick Maher grabbed the offensive rebound, the Pioneers turned it over to the BlueBoys (4-4, 3-2 MWC). Zeke Light was good on another shot from outside the line, and just that quickly, the margin was 10.

It reached 14 with about 3 minutes remaining before another Grinnell rally, with Luke Yeager's 3 and a layup from Taylor making it 120-114 with 48 seconds left on the block. But IC closed it out at the free throw line, handing the Pioneers a tough loss on their final game before Christmas break.

Taylor shook off a 5-for-19 night on 3-pointers to finish with 37 points in only 16 minutes of run, and Maher added 16 points, seven assists and four steals. Griffin Lentsch (14) and Yeager (12) also reached double figures.

Once the break is over, Grinnell (7-2, 4-1 MWC) hosts surprising Beloit (5-3, 4-1), with the game scheduled for 8 p.m. EST. I wish coaches David and Dave Arseneault and all my friends from Iowa a Happy Holidays, and I hope the New Year brings them more points, 3s and victories (not necessarily in that order).

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