A career-high of 32 points and a game-high eight rebounds from senior Christian Grider proved just enough as the Goshen College men’s basketball team opened its 2017-2018 season with an 82-77 victory Tuesday evening over Lawrence Technological University at Gunden Gymnasium.
A shootout between Grider and Lawrence Tech’s Devonte Myles headlined play throughout the contest as Myles eked out a two-point advantage over Grider to claim his spot as the game’s leading scorer with 34. Both Myles and Grider finished the evening shooting an exact 12-for-21 from the field.
Despite a stellar evening for Myles and 20 points from counterpart Ty’rese Searles, LTU (0-1) fell victim to the turnover bug with 17 and could not erase their early deficit. Searles accounted for eight of the teams 17 giveaways, while the Blue Devils only accounted nine team assists.
Lead by veteran point man Devin Heath-Granger, a senior, the Leafs (1-0) were able to control extended possessions throughout as Heath-Granger totaled just three giveaways to the teams seven. Heath-Granger also picked up right where he left off in his previous three years as GC’s primary ball handler as he tallied a game high seven assists to push his career total to 392, ranking him fourth in school history and 32 behind third-place Kenny Edwards.
Fellow senior Billy Geschke added 18 points for the Maple Leafs while junior forward Alhassan Barrie and Heath-Granger tossed in 11 apiece to help the cause. Goshen finished the night shooting 44.8 percent (30-for-67) compared to LTU’s even split of 50 percent (29-for-58). Both teams struggled mightily from behind the arc with Goshen finishing at 21.7 percent (5-for-23) compared to the Blue Devils mere 15.4 percent (2-for-13) mark.
Each squad shot an eerily similar percentage from the charity stripe as their totals were separated by just one missed attempt from the Blue Devils. The Maple Leafs held the slight advantage at an even 81 percent (17-for-21) to LTU’s 77.3 percent (17-for-22) showing.
The win was the first career victory for new interim head coach John Tropf as he becomes the first Goshen head coach to begin his career with a victory over an NAIA opponent since 2000. Tropf took the reigns as the lead man for the Maple Leafs following the departure of former head coach Neal Young this past August. Young has since taken a head position at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.
Goshen returns to the floor Friday night in its first of seven straight games away from home, taking on Governors State University in the Jaguars’ season-opening tournament in University Park, Illinois. First tip is set for 8 p.m.