Strong performances by seniors Kevin Phillips and Xavier Newson on Senior Day fell just short as a three-pointer by Billy Geschke, a junior, rimmed-out with time expiring in a 66-64 defeat to Taylor University this past Saturday in Gunden Gymnasium.
Phillips finished the day with 18 points and eight rebounds on a near perfect 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. His counterpart, Newson, added 15 points and four rebounds. The two seniors combined to score exactly half of Goshen’s 66 team points, and played a large role in the 42-to-24 points in the paint advantage for the Leafs. Geschke was the only other Leaf in double figures with 12 points off the bench.
Goshen also outshot their opponent 52.8 percent to Taylor’s 46 percent. Despite their hot hand, Goshen was outdone in nearly every other statistical category.
The contest saw back and forth action throughout, with Goshen taking a 29-27 lead heading into the break. The Trojans did not take a lead in the contest until the 15:42 mark in the second half. The lead never reached more than five for either side for the remainder of the game.
A late layup by Devin Heath-Granger, a junior, gave the Leafs a 61-60 lead before game high scorer, Jake Heggeland, countered with two of his 20 to regain the lead 16 seconds later. The Heggeland bucket forced Goshen to foul and Taylor answered by cashing in on 4-of-4 from the freethrow line to stretch their lead to 66-61 with 16 seconds remaining.
Conner Funkhouser, a junior, stepped back and drained a three-pointer in the face of a Taylor defender to bring the contest back to a one possession game at 66-64. On the ensuing possession, Taylor guard Eric Cellier missed the front end of a one and one.
With just over six seconds remaining in the game, Heath-Granger raced up the court to find a wide open Geschke on the left wing, but the shot wouldn’t fall.
This is the second loss by way of a missed game winning shot against the Trojans. Newson’s missed jumper on Jan. 15 symbolized a near exact ending to Saturday, with Goshen falling 65-64 that day.
Tuesday’s home contest against Spring Arbor University proved to be much of the same for the Leafs as they were unable to break the hot shooting streak of their opponent. Goshen fell to the Cougars by a score of 88-81.
Heath-Granger led the offensive attack with 18 points and six assists. Phillips and Newson once again reached double digits with 14 and 11 respectively. However, it was Goshen’s regular bench players Tanner Camp, Ben Cotton, Eli Gingerich, Robert Warrick, first-years, and Carter Boos, a sophomore, who nearly stole the game late for the Leafs.
The five saw action with seven minutes remaining in the contest and finished the game outscoring the Cougars 19-8 going 9-for-16 from the floor. Camp set his career high scoring total with nine points. Boos added a season high six on two three-pointers.
With the loss against Taylor, the Leafs are now unable to make the Cross League playoffs. Goshen will finish up their season on the road this Saturday against Marian University with tipoff set for 3 p.m.