The men’s basketball team pulled off a big upset Saturday with an 80-62 win over 17th ranked Madonna University in the annual Maple City Hoopfest. The win followed a disappointing 50-71 loss to Lourdes University on Friday night. Madonna entered the season with the national preseason ranking of 17th before a Friday night loss by four to number nine Bethel College. The loss to Goshen dropped them to 0-2, and, one would assume, a significant drop in the rankings.
Goshen attacked the Madonna defense with a variety of methods right from the start. Behind transition layups, strong drives in the half-court offense, and solid shooting the Leafs built a 19-12 lead by the 8:00 mark of the first half. Following the eight-minute media timeout and a Madonna bucket, Goshen’s Jerron Jamerson, a senior, got loose on a breakaway and threw down a big dunk; that was just the start for Jamerson. He went on to score the next seven points for the Purple and White as well, before a beautiful kick-out let Billy Geschke, a first-year, hit the first trey of his college career. A few minutes later, a Jamerson jumper with five seconds remaining in the half gave the Maple Leafs a 38-19 lead.
The second half continued right where the first left off, with another Geschke three-pointer. A back-and-forth second half was enough to keep Goshen’s lead steady, despite a stretch in which Madonna’s Travis Schuba made five straight three-point attempts in seven minutes. Defending Schuba, one of NAIA’s best three-point shooters last year, was obviously a focus of Goshen’s defense but for that stretch, they were a step late getting to him. A renewed focus on both ends of the floor granted Goshen increased opportunities in the transition game; that, coupled with nearly flawless free throw shooting, allowed the Leafs to coast to an 80-62 home win.
Following the game, Geschke described the home atmosphere as, “Really good … much louder and better than high school.” His eyes lit up when talking about the future, saying “We’re just going to keep working in practice. Coach Young is a great coach. We’ll keep improving.”
The mere scheduling of this season kickoff tournament suggests the confidence that the basketball program has in their team this year. All three of the teams invited received votes in the national polls and with the win the Leafs made a case that they, too, belong in the conversation. While it is risky to count on, it is encouraging to see Goshen solidly defeat a team that just the night before put up 90 points in a battle with one of the Crossroads League’s best, Bethel College. Bethel was ranked second in the preseason coaches’ poll for the league while Goshen came in at tenth, a ranking Goshen hopes to turn the tables on throughout the season. They next play November 8th Calumet College of St. Joseph at the Siena Heights Tournament.