GOSHEN, Ind. – The long wait is over. The Goshen College men's basketball team earned its first Crossroads League victory of the season, snapping a 14-game winless streak with a 66-61 victory over visiting Mount Vernon Nazarene University Tuesday night.
The win was the Maple Leafs' first since a 91-65 victory over Trinity International University back on December 4. The game also marked the first time Goshen has played back-to-back contests at home since mid-November. They are 7-7 on their home floor and have not loss two in a row (when those games have both been at home) all season.
While the night did not always look like it would go in Goshen's favor, it did start strong. After Mount Vernon scored the opening basket of the game, the Leafs went on a 5-0 spurt capped by a Jerron Jamerson old-fashioned 3-point play.
Goshen briefly lost the lead at 8-7, but a Trevor Commissaris second-chance bucket in the paint put them back on top 13-11 seven minutes in. That is when the Cougars made their first significant move. Mark Lieberman capped a 9-2 run to hand Mount Vernon a 20-15 lead just past the midway point of the half, the largest gap by either side thus far.
The Cougars held the advantage the rest of the period (other than a quick 20 second tied score), going up by as many as seven before settling into a 36-30 halftime cushion. Mount Vernon shot a strong 53.8% in the half with seven turnovers allowing Goshen to stick within striking distance.
Goshen got rolling early in the second stanza. Six minutes in, Stefon Luckey put the exclamation point on a 6-0 run (12-5 start) with a 3-pointer giving the Leafs their first lead (42-41) since 12:56 remained in the first half. With the lead again, Goshen tried to pull away, going up by four minutes later.
Mount Vernon never went away, though. They tied the score at 47-47 and despite Goshen making several runs to increase their lead to as many as six, they did not allow the Leafs to pull away. They were within one (62-61) with 1:48 to play before a Jamerson basket stretched it back to three. A pair of late 3-point attempts rimmed out and Luckey iced the game with a pair of free throws to the delight of the crowd.
The Maple Leafs were out shot 43% to 38% and out rebounded 45-39, but turned the ball over just nine times (second lowest tally of the season) and hit 16-of-23 from the free throw line to get the win.
Jamerson hit 6-of-11 from the field for a game-high 17 points, while Luckey had 14 points and junior Matt Glick scored 12 points. Luckey added four assists and Glick had three blocked shots. Jason Dawson led the visitors with 13 points and five assists, Zach Zeltman added 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Xavier Holland had 12 points off the bench.
Goshen (8-18, 1-14 CL) is back in action when they travel to Spring Arbor University on Saturday. The Cougars (18-9, 8-7 CL) are the hottest team in the conference with five-straight wins, including three-straight against NAIA t op 25 programs.