The Goshen College men’s basketball team lost their first home game of the season last Saturday against the #9-ranked Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats.

Indiana Wesleyan came into the game on a 13-game winning streak, which they extended to 14 after the 71-66 victory. The last team to beat the Wildcats was Goshen, who inflicted their only conference loss this season.

The Maple Leafs started off strongly, jumping to a 14-7 lead after Indiana Wesleyan made the first baskets of the game. It was a close contest for the rest of the half. Neither team could maintain control, with the lead changing over and over again. But Goshen was able to finish as strongly as it started, going into the break ahead 36-31 following a 6-1 run.

Returning from the locker rooms, Daniel Butler II, a junior, helped Goshen extend its lead to 44-31 by scoring the first eight points of the second half. But just like that, the Wildcats went on a run of their own to cut the deficit to only one point. From that moment onwards, the game went back and forth in a fashion similar to that of the first period.

With less than three minutes left on the clock and the scored tied at 62, Wesleyan scored a crucial basket to edge ahead by two. On the next possession, Goshen failed to recover, and Wesleyan took full advantage.  Wildcat Spencer Harris sank a 3-pointer to put his team up by five, and Goshen could do little but foul. In the remaining minute of play, the Wildcats converted their free throws and put the game out of reach for the home team.

“We knew it was going to come down to the stretch tonight, and it did,” said head coach Gary Chupp. “And credit to them, they made shots. You know that is what it boils down to; Harris hit a big three when we were down by two.”

Leading the Leafs were Butler with 21 points and 7 rebounds, Errick McCollum, a senior, with 17 points and 9 rebounds and Senior Nate West, a junior, with 8 points and 5 assists.

Last Saturday’s game signified the beginning of the second half of conference play for the Maple Leafs, meaning that every game from now until the tournament will be conference play. Goshen, with a record of 13-10 (4-5 in conference) will host Bethel College on Jan. 30 at 3:00. In their first meeting of the season, Bethel was able to defeat Goshen 87-79. After Bethel, Goshen will face off against Grace College on Feb. 2 away from home.