Last Tuesday, the Goshen College men’s basketball team won an important conference game against Spring Arbor, who ranks 15 in the Mid-Central College Conference. With this game, the team begins a four-game stretch against four nationally-ranked teams that includes conference rivals No. 1 Bethel College, No. 9 Indiana Wesleyan University and No. 21 Grace College.

After dominating the first half, the Maple Leafs let Spring Arbor back into the game in the second half before winning 69-65.

Goshen got off to a quick start and led by as much as 14 points in the first half. Thanks to a strong defensive effort, Goshen held Spring Arbor to only 25 first half points on 30 percent shooting.

“We really got after [Spring Arbor] in the first half,” said head coach Gary Chupp. “That was as good a defensive half as we’ve had all year.”

Goshen extended its lead by 19 points plunging into the second half. However, the Leafs began to lose speed when Spring Arbor played catchup midway through the second half cutting Goshen’s lead to 9 points.

“[The 10-0 stretch] gave them confidence,” said Chupp. “They really took it to us and we backed down a bit.”

Spring Arbor chipped away at Goshen’s lead for the final 10 minutes of the game and managed to pull within one point with only a minute remaining. Striving to avoid an overtime game, Goshen hit key free throws over the final minute to put the game away.

Errick McCollum, a junior, led all scorers with 17 points. Bryce Bow, a senior, came off the bench to score 14 points, shooting 4-5 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line. Nate West, a junior, dominated the paint and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The victory puts Goshen at 4-4 in the conference keeping them in contention for one of the top four seeds in the MCC tournament.

The Leafs will next play away games going head to head with Indian Wesleyan on Jan. 24 and Bethel College on Jan. 31 before hosting Grace College at home at 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 3.