On Tuesday evening, the Goshen College men’s basketball team earned a much-needed home win after losing their previous three. The win adds to the Leafs two-game winning streak that had resulted from two road wins.
The win did not come easy as the visiting Marian Knights fought hard all game long, keeping it close the entire forty minutes of play. The Knights had also been playing well coming into Tuesday night’s competition, winning their last four of six and having just lost to conference leader IWU in overtime.
On top of that, Goshen was missing two important players: Daniel Butler II, a junior, and Nate West Jr., a senior, both of whom take the second and third top scoring positions for the Leafs. Butler II looks to be back for the next game, but West Jr. is questionable for the postseason with a knee injury.
Head coach Gary Chupp is hopeful, but he is not relying on having West Jr. back for playoffs. Yet, despite having a short bench and a short line-up, Goshen hustled to rebound the Knights 50-38.
The first half started off slow for both teams with the score being 1-1 after three minutes of play. It was a tug-of-war first half as the score stayed close with five ties and nine lead changes. Goshen was able to go into half up eight, 34-26, because of a 10-1 run fueled by senior Eric McCollum and good shooting throughout. The Leafs shot better from the field than the Knights with a 45 percent to 35 percent advantage on the night.
The two leading scorers coming into the contest were McCollum for the Leafs, averaging 26 points per game, and Jordan Tucker for the Knights, averaging 16. McCollum held to his name in the first half, scoring 16 of his 27 total points. Tucker, on the other hand, made two points.
Coming out of halftime, the Leafs kept up their swarming defense and added to their lead. Goshen’s biggest lead came halfway through the second half with a 13-point lead, but the Knights did not give up. Marian was able to get Goshen in the bonus and chipped the lead away point by point from the free throw line. They shot 11 of 14 from the line in the second half and cut the lead to two with just under three minutes to play.
But Junior Carl Steen then came alive, scoring 10 of his 11 in the second half. Steen and the Leafs were able to ward off the threatening Knights, winning the game by five points, 72-67. McCollum led all scorers with 27 and Anthony Furlin, a junior, lead four Knights in double figures with 13.
With the win Goshen inches above .500, moving to 8-7 in the MCC. They secure the fifth spot in the conference and look to face 19th ranked Spring Arbor at home this Saturday, Feb. 20. It is an important game as Spring Arbor could be a potential first round match up come the MCC playoffs.