KALAMAZOO, MICH. -- The Trine University men's basketball team clinched at least a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season championship following a 67-57 win against Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich.
With the win, accompanied by a loss by Albion (Mich.) College, the Thunder move into sole possession of first place to secure a share of the regular-season title with one game left to go in the MIAA regular season.
Senior Ellis Cummings (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills) led five players in double figures in scoring for Trine with a game-high 19 points on seven-of-10 shooting (70.0 percent) in addition to being one of three players to record seven rebounds. Junior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) was part of a three-way tie on the team with 11 points and also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to record a double-double.
Senior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) and junior Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) also scored 11 points and both added seven boards. Senior Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and also had eight rebounds.
Both team's offenses struggled in the first half as Trine (17-7, 10-3 MIAA) shot just 26.7 percent (eight-of-30) and Kalamazoo (7-17, 4-9 MIAA) shot 33.3 percent (11-of-33) from the floor. The Hornets tallied the first points of the game 32 seconds in on a layup, but then neither team would score again until the 17:40 mark when KZOO scored on another layup. The Hornets added yet another layup to take a 6-0 advantage before the Thunder registered their first points with 15:25 left in the period on a jumper by Copeland.
Trailing by seven points, 11-4, a pair of three-pointers by Smith, separated by a KZOO layup, narrowed the gap to three points, 13-10, with 12:34 to go before halftime before another lenghty scoring drought by both teams of 3:14 ended with a layup by Winters to cap the 8-2 scoring run and make it a one-point game, 13-12, at the 9:15 mark.
Trine eventually evened the game at 16-16 and then took the lead later in the half with a dunk by Cummings that made the score 21-20 in favor of the visitors with 1:49 to go. Back-to-back layups by KZOO regained the lead for the Hornets and ended the scoring in the period as KZOO went into the locker rooms with a 24-21 edge.
KZOO led by five points in the opening minutes of the second half, but a triple by junior Langston Johnson (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Central), followed by another three-pointer by Smith, put the Thunder back out in front, 29-28, with 16:27 to go in regulation.
The Hornets took the lead back with a pair of free-throws when an ensuing layup by Cummings sparked a 10-3 scoring run that resulted in a seven-point margin, 39-32, at the 12:10 mark. KZOO rallied with consecutive baskets to cut the deficit to three points, but Trine didn't relinquished the lead and extended the advantage back out to seven points again with just under six minutes remaining thanks to one-of-two free-throws by Cummings that made it a 47-40 ball game.
KZOO stayed within striking distance until Trine got a little more breathing room with an eight-point lead with 1:34 left after a layup by Cummings made the score 58-50. After a Hornet three-pointer cut the Trine lead to five points, the Thunder took advantage of the Hornets being forced to foul by making eight straight free-throws and nine-of-10 overall in the final 40 seconds to seal the 10-point victory, 67-57.
Trine will conclude the regular season with a conference matchup against Alma (Mich.) College on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the MTI Center. It will also be senior day with the game scheduled to start at 3 p.m.