It has been a long January for the Goshen College Maple Leafs (17-8, 7-6), with struggles shooting the ball, scoring points and winning basketball games. But Tuesday night, Head Coach Gary Chupp and his team knocked off the 24th-ranked Marian Knights (16-8, 7-6) 69-66 on the final day of January to end the month with a record of 4-6.
With the reigning National Player of the Week, Knight guard Alex Sylvester, a senior, the Leafs knew they would have their hands full with the back court combination of Sylvester and Aaron Evans. After Geoffry Gilot, a junior guard, knocked down a field goal to open the contest, the Knights went on to a 12-2 run with Sylvester and Evans contributing 11 of the 12 points.
The Leafs cut it to as little as five with 12:10 to play in the opening half; but Marian continued to attack on both ends of the floor taking advantage of the 11 first half turnovers by the Maple Leafs, leading the Leafs 39-31 at intermission. Both Evans and Sylvester ended the first half in double figures with 12 and 13 points respectively. Kody Chandler, a first-year, converted 5-9 from the field good for 12 first-half points.
Marian was the aggressor in the first half, but the Maple Leafs turned the tables quickly in the second half as three consecutive 3’s put by junior Mathew Martin, Gilot and Casey Pratt, a junior, trimmed the Knights’ advantage to 1 with 15:25 left.
This was the story of the second half as the Leafs held Sylvester to zero points, only allowing him to get off three shots from the field. On the offensive end, it was Gilot who came up big as he has been doing the entire month of January getting 11 of his 13 points and nine of his 10 boards all in the second half.
“I thought he was really aggressive starting the second half and that really set the tone for us,” said Chupp in his post-game interview.
But he wasn’t the only one stepping up. Coming off scoreless performance against St. Francis on Saturday, Chandler stepped in to from beyond the arc to give the Maple Leafs a 48-47 lead with just under 14 minutes to play.
“It always helps to shoot the ball well, but I think we’ve seen all year long, when we are defending as well as we were in the second half, that automatically makes us better offensively,” continued Chupp.
The Leafs continued the strong shooting, converting 6-9 from the perimeter and 10-23 from the field, picking up their 17th win of the season.
The Leafs as they have a few road games coming their way, starting on Saturday as they take on No.8 Grace College (19-5, 9-4) with a 3:00 p.m. tip.