The Goshen men’s basketball team lost to Taylor 79-71 this past Saturday, falling to 0-17 this season.

Karson Jenkins led the Maple Leafs with 27 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, also dishing out a team-leading 4 assists. Isaac Miller, Judah Simfukwe and Marcus Northern contributed 10 points each, with Kevin Cota adding 8 points and 8 rebounds. Despite the loss, Jenkins felt positive about the team’s effort.

“We fought hard; we played together,” he said. “We played one of our better games of the season, and… we have a young team. As we get more experienced… we’ll be able to come over the hump and start closing it out.”

Goshen shot well, hitting 48 percent of its shots from the field, and 44% from 3; they out-performed Taylor by about six percentage points in both categories.

Turnovers and second-chance opportunities were what spelled defeat for Goshen. Taylor recorded 11 steals, scoring 16 points off of turnovers; Goshen had four steals, with only 7 points off turnovers. 

Taylor also recorded 10 offensive rebounds to Goshen’s six. Jenkins mentioned offensive rebounding as an area of emphasis during practice:

“We’re not a really big team, [so] we lose the game on the boards a lot of the time,” he said. “They give the other team another possession. If they get extra possessions, an offensive rebound leads to a basket right around the rim.”

Coming up for the Leafs is a stretch of tough conference opponents.

“We have a very competitive conference,” Miller said, “so we’ve been more into scout[ing] for teams… we run their offenses every day; work on stuff that they would work on.”

Goshen finished 7-23 (3-14) in the 2021-22 season, and 3-25 (1-17) last season. Why has it been so difficult this season for them to secure a win? 

Statistically speaking, the Crossroads League has improved significantly over the past few seasons. Tony Miller, Goshen’s athletic department statistician, highlights offensive points-per-possession as “the distillation of how well a team gets the brown round thing in the big orange circle.”

As displayed in the graphic, the Crossroads League has suddenly morphed into the most efficient scoring conference in the NAIA, and it’s not particularly close; St. Francis, the league’s sixth-best team in terms of points-per-possession, ranks thirteenth in the NAIA. Statistics on a page may be little consolation for a team that’s still searching for its first win, but provide important context for a team that’s young and still learning to play together.

“It is unfortunate that it is what it is,” Miller said, “but I think a lot of the thing is just staying together, knowing that we’re all in it together…we know that we’re not in this alone.”