The Ruth Gunden Gymnasium was a sea of celebration this past Tuesday night as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams reign victorious in the first home double header of the season. The women’s team took the court first as they defeated Holy Cross College 67-55. The men’s team then followed by defeating the University of Northwestern Ohio 78-69.The first three minutes of the women’s game were back and forth before the Maple Leafs began creating issues for the Saints with their press. The Maple Leafs caused turnovers for the entire first quarter, and were able to jump start a 10-1 run to close the first quarter with a 18-10 lead.
The second quarter was much more closely contested with the Maple Leafs only outscoring the Saints by one point. In the quarter, the Maple Leafs interior defense was effective as Keyaira Murff, a junior, turned away shot after shot; she would finish the game with 3 blocks to her name.
The half time score was 34-25 to the Maple Leafs after Goshen’s had forced multiple turnovers to create quick transition scores.
The third and fourth quarters were dominated by the Maple Leafs. They outscored the Saints 17 to 11 in the third quarter pushing the lead at one point to 23. At the end of the game, the Saints were able to narrow the margin, but never got close. The final score from the Gunden Gymnasium was 67-55.
The Maple Leafs were led offensively by Graysen Cockerham, a sophmore, with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. Mariah Roe, a junior, added 10 points and Janara Flowers, a freshman, chipped in 9. TaNiece Chapman, a sophomore, controlled the rebounding category as she usually does, pulling down 11. The Maple Leafs active defense forced 33 turnovers in their first victory of the 2019 season.
Following the women’s success, the men’s team were eager to step onto the court for their home opener, with a starting five that features three new players. The Maple Leafs jumped all over the Racers to begin the game.
Nathan Lessing, for the Racers, scored the game’s first bucket 15 seconds in; which would turn out to be the lone Racer lead. The Maple Leafs would then go on a 20-1 run sparked by 11 points from Austin Branagan.
The offense was not the only thing working during the run, the Maple Leafs stiefeling defense was just as big of a factor. Tahj Curry and Sheddrick Porter Jr., two junior transfers, were applying heavy ball pressure on the Racers making nothing easy on the offensive end.
Entering the locker room at half time, the Maple Leafs held a 39-24 lead powered by Branagan’s first half 13 points.
The Racers were not ready to give up yet, as they sparked a run in the second half to pull within eight at 55-47. Down the stretch, Michael Bowers, a junior, rose as an offensive weapon for the Maple Leafs. He was able to slash his way to the basket through tough defense. He would finish the game with 20 points of his own.
The Racers were eventually able to cut the lead down to three at 65-62, but down the stretch, the Maple Leafs were able to convert at the foul line. They shot 73% from the stripe on 22-30 shooting. They would go on a game clinching 11-1 run to put the game on ice. Final score, 78-69. The Maple Leafs improve to 2-1 this season.
Leading the way for the Maple Leafs was Branagan with 23, Bowers with 20, and Colton Noel, a junior, in his first action this season contributed 11 off of the bench.
Both teams are back in action this weekend. The Women’s team travels to Wisconsin to play in the Viterbo Classic on Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2. The Men’s team will host Trinity International University Saturday, Nov. 2, in the Ruth Gunden Gymnasium with a 3 p.m. start time.