ANGOLA, IND. -- Senior Ellis Cummings (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills) scored a career and game-high 24 points in Trine University's men's basketball win against Calvin (Mich.) College, 82-78, in the semifinals of the 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament at the MTI Center.
Cummings scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half and ended up shooting nine-of-14 (64.3 percent) for the game, including a perfect six-of-six at the free-throw line, to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Senior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) finished with 19 points on eight-of-20 shooting (40.0 percent) and scored 16 of his points in the first half.
Rounding out the high scorers was senior Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) with 16 points and also had a game-tying high five assists. Junior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) matched Smith in assists with five in addition to scoring five points, seven rebounds and a game-high three steals.
Trine struggled as a team from three-point range for the game, shooting just 27.3 percent (thee-of-11), but made up for it in overall shooting at 50.8 percent (31-of-61) and at the free-throw line where the Thunder converted 85.0 percent of their attempts (17-of-20). In addition, the Thunder scored nearly half of their total points for the game in the paint (40 points).
Trine (19-7) scored the first eight points of the game, but Calvin (14-13) later came back to make it a one-possession game with a score of 12-10 with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half. A layup by Copeland then triggered a run of eight straight points that gave the Thunder some breathing room with a 10-point margin, 20-10, at the 9:55 minute mark.
After a pair of ensuing free-throws by the Knights, a three-pointer by Smith gave Trine its largest lead of the half of 11 points, 23-12, with 9:18 left before the break. Calvin looked to rally with five straight points and later cut the deficit to thee points, 25-22, with 6:50 to go. But Trine regained momentum with a 7-0 run that ended in a three-point play by junior Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) to extend the lead back to double figures, 32-22, with four-and-a-half minutes to play.
But the Knights would not go away and narrowed the gap to six points twice as the half winded down that included a 35-29 margin with two minutes remaining. A jumper by Copeland and a three-pointer by Winters put Trine back out ahead by 11 points and a basket by Copeland as time expired equalled the team's largest lead of the period as the home team went into the intermission leading, 42-31.
The second half saw Calvin chip away at the Trine lead which was five points, 52-47, at the 13:09 mark after a pair of free-throws by Cummings. The Knights then scored six unanswered points to record their first lead of the game with a little over 11 minutes left and had a 53-52 edge. Both teams traded baskets to keep the score in favor of the Knights by a point before an ensuing 6-2 mini run by Trine put the Thunder back out in front for good, 60-57, with 8:25 to play.
Later in the half, Trine led by three points, 71-68, when six straight points gave the Thunder the room they needed and went up by nine points, 77-68, with 2:31 to go. Calvin later made it a four-point ball game, 80-76, with just six seconds on the clock and were forced to foul. Smith, who connected on two free-throws in Trine's previous offensive possession, converted two more freebies with five seconds left to put the final stamp on the contest by increasing the lead to six points, 82-76. The Knights added a pair of free-throws of their own to end the scoring, but time was not on their side as Trine went on to claim the 82-78 victory.
Trine advances to take on Albion (Mich.) College in the MIAA Tournament Championship game tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 23) at the MTI Center. The two teams will square off at 5 p.m.