Sophomore Colton Noel headlined the Goshen men’s basketball team’s week, posting 17- and 16-point totals in consecutive games. Despite the 32-point performance in 33 minutes of action, the Leafs dropped both games on the week.
In their first matchup, GC took on the 14th-ranked Pilots of Bethel College in Gunden Gymnasium.
The Leafs dug themselves in a hole early as the Pilots knocked down three triples in three consecutive possessions to stretch their lead to 13-4, forcing a GC timeout. The home team would respond with a 6-0 run of their own behind back-to-back buckets from Noel, followed by a jumper from junior Eli Gingerich.
Bethel quickly regained control and eventually widened their lead to 13 with just five minutes left in the first half. Again, Goshen had a response for the red-hot Pilots.
This time, senior Alhassan Barrie would be the catalyst for a 9-0 run, closing the margin to just four points. A three-pointer from first-year Ryan Mansbarger ignited the run, followed by six points from Barrie.
With just four seconds left on the clock, Bethel was able to end the spurt by hitting two free throws right before the halftime buzzer sounded. At the half, the score was Bethel 31, Goshen 27.
Goshen brought the game within three points once more at the beginning of the second half, but could not stop Bethel’s balanced scoring offense. The Pilots stretched their lead to an insurmountable 17 points midway through the second half and would go on to capture the victory by a score of 76-65.
Noel led the way for the Maple Leaf offense with 17 points before fouling out with five minutes left. Barrie added 13 while shooting 9-10 from the free throw line, and sophomore Tamaje Blackwell rounded out the double-figure scorers posting 12 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Just three days later, the Maple Leafs turned around and traveled to Indianapolis to take on the 16th-ranked Knights from Marian University.
Behind stout defense and six points from Barrie, the Leafs jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead. After the media timeout, the Knights gained their composure and strung together an 11-1 run to take their first lead of the evening: 15-11.
From there, Marian would not look back as senior guard Wes Stowers caught fire, scoring 10 straight points for the Knights, stretching their lead to 16 points. A late surge from the Leafs cut the margin to 10 before Sowers nailed a jumper just before the halftime buzzer to lead the Knights into the locker room with a 39-27 advantage.
The second half was much of the same for Marian, as Goshen could not find an answer for the potent Knight offense. Foul trouble plagued Goshen heading down the stretch, and the home team took advantage.
Marian shot an impressive 59 percent from the field, including 7-13 from three and 8-8 from the free throw stripe. The Leafs tried to make up ground from the free throw line as well, shooting 15-17, but it wasn’t enough. The Knights defended their home court on their way to a 96-67 victory.
Noel paced the GC offense with 16 points on 6-9 shooting from the field. Barrie added 12 points and senior Demarkus Stuckey contributed nine points, seven assists and four rebounds in his return from injury.
Goshen will next play host to the top-ranked team in the country, Indiana Wesleyan, on Feb. 2 at Gunden Gymnasium at 3 p.m.