WINONA LAKE, Ind. (WFFT) - Cade Gibbs was the hero on Monday night as Grace’s men’s basketball team took down No. 20 St. Francis 72-71.
Gibbs sank a memorable game winner for the Lancers. The freshman, who tied for scoring honors with 24 points, saved his best shot for last. Gibbs drilled a corner 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining, transforming Grace’s two-point deficit into a one-point win.
The shot came on a broken play. The Lancers had the ball with less than 10 seconds remaining. A lobbed pass to Frankie Davidson ricocheted off the rim. Davidson alertly grabbed the ball and found Gibbs open in the left corner for the game-winning triple.
The win is Grace’s second-straight NAIA Top 25 upset. The Lancers (10-4, 3-2 Crossroads League) knocked off No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday.
To start Monday’s contest, Grace jumped out to an early lead on the back of its defense. USF missed 11 of its first 13 field goals as Grace put the clamps on the Cougars (15-3, 2-3 CL).
After four minutes of play, Grace already led 14-4; the Lancers led by as many as 11 in the half.
Elijah Malone was a major spark off the bench. The freshman had an assist and six points, highlighted by a one-handed dunk in traffic.
The Cougars struck back, however. USF unleashed a quick 12-0 run over the course of three minutes to take its first lead of the game.
The teams traded small leads over the next few minutes until Grace ended the half on a flurry.
The Lancers scored the last nine points of the half, holding USF scoreless for the final 3:47. Cade Gibbs muscled in an and-1 in the final minute, and Haden Deaton ended the scoring with a post move to put the Lancers ahead 43-36 at halftime.
Grace shot 53 percent from the floor compared to 42 percent for USF. The Lancers also made 9 of 10 from the foul line while the Cougars shot just one free throw.
Cade Gibbs led all players with 11 points at the break, Deaton had nine points, and Matt Jennings scored eight.
A few minutes into the second half, Grace had reasserted its double-digit lead. Jennings scored a pair of contested shots in the paint, and Frankie Davidson added four more points to give Grace a 13-point edge with 15 minutes remaining.
But just as they did in the first half, the Cougars clawed back. Over the next nine minutes, Grace went ice cold offensively and made just two more field goals.
USF took advantage to tie the game at 60-60 with seven minutes on the clock.
Cade Gibbs and Jakob Gibbs scored on back-to-back plays to put the Lancers back on top.
With 2:29 on the clock, Cade Gibbs drained a 3-pointer to give Grace a 69-63 lead. But the Lancers’ attack dried up at that point. Grace did not score again until the final second of regulation.
The Cougars rattled off eight unanswered points down the stretch, shocking Grace to grab a 70-69 lead with less than a minute to play.
Grace misfired on a 3-point try with 12 seconds remaining, and the Cougars made 1 of 2 from the foul line to extend their lead to 71-69.
But USF left too much time on the clock for Grace, who sank the winner in the final second. The Cougars’ fullcourt pass on the final play was tipped out of bounds to end the game.
Cade Gibbs shot 8 of 14 from the floor, 2 of 3 from the 3-point line and 6 of 8 from the foul line to go along with 8 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal.
Jennings finished with 12 points, 4 boards and 3 assists, and Deaton had a double-double with 11 points, 10 boards and 3 assists.
Davidson finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, and Jakob Gibbs chipped in five points and three boards.
The Lancers end the week with a pair of road games, including at Goshen on Wednesday and at Huntington on Saturday.