Grace muscles past No. 15 USF

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team notched a statement win over No. 15 St. Francis on Saturday.

The Lancers’ 82-68 victory caps off a season sweep of the Cougars (19-9, 8-8 Crossroads League). Grace also successfully defended its spot in the conference standings, remaining alone in third place.

With just two games left in the regular season, Grace can finish no lower than fourth in the league standings. The win assures that the Lancers (18-10, 10-6 CL) will host a quarterfinal of the CL Tournament on Feb. 26.

Jaret Sons led a hot Lancer offense with a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Five Lancers scored in double figures in a balanced attack, and Grace shot a sizzling 55 percent from the field.

The first few minutes were physical. A 3-pointer from Braxton Linville and a layup by Haden Deaton gave Grace a 9-5 edge.

Coming out of the media timeout, the Lancers caught fire.

Stout defense and efficient shooting produced a 10-0 run for Grace, highlighted by buckets from Deaton, Sons and Charlie Warner.

As the Cougars’ offense found a spark, the Lancers consistently responded. Sons drilled a 3-point basket to counter a short spurt from the Cougars.

The Lancers never let their lead drop below eight points, heading into the locker room ahead 39-27.

Deaton led the Lancers with 10 points in the first half on 4-of-6 shooting. Myles Johnson followed closely behind with nine points. Sons was a force on the glass, grabbing eight boards in the first half.

Grace came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, scoring on its first four possessions.

The stretch culminated in back-to-back triples from Sons and Warner, expanding the Lancers’ lead to 19.

The Cougars tried to pick up steam offensively, but the Lancer offense could not be stopped.

Grace’s cushion grew to 61-38 thanks to a 12-5 run. Warner and Johnson connected from deep on back-to-back possessions to put an exclamation point on the 24-point lead.

Offensively, the Lancers refused to let up. Matt Jennings created opportunities, converting a layup and drawing free throws on two straight possessions.

The stiff Lancer defense forced turnovers on each of the next two possessions for the Cougars.

Grace cruised to the final score of 82-68.

Sons stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.

Deaton scored 18 points on 6-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Warner chipped in 17 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor with two 3-pointers.

Johnson added 14 points with five rebounds and was also a perfect 4-for-4 at the charity stripe. Jennings scored 12 points, eight of which came in the second half.

Grace finished the game shooting 38 percent from downtown and 55 percent from the floor.

The Lancers are on the road for their next matchup. Grace will take on No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.