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The Scarlet & Black

Pair of wins lifts men’s basketball to second in MWC

The men’s basketball team defeated Ripon and Monmouth to improve its overall record to 13-4, 8-4 in the Midwest Conference. Since returning to season play on Saturday, Jan. 4 after a shortened winter break, the Pioneers have won six of the last nine games. This impressive feat also pushed the Pioneers up the Midwest Conference standings, as the team is now tied for second place.

The Pioneers won a thrilling comeback victory against Ripon 110-102 last Saturday in response to a 27-point loss in their last meeting on Saturday, Jan. 4. The visiting Red Hawks led the home team by three in the second half, but the Pioneers, with their aggressive three-point attacks, went on a 17-4 run to pull away with a win.

“The victory over Ripon was because of our collective energy as a team,” said Jack Taylor ’15. “We lost to Ripon about a month ago and it was an ugly game, as we were shedding off the Christmas break rust.”

The bench celebrates the team’s play in the second half of Grinnell’s 110-102 victory over Ripon on Saturday, Jan. 25 in Darby. Photograph by John Brady.
The bench celebrates the team’s play in the second half of Grinnell’s 110-102 victory over Ripon on Saturday, Jan. 25 in Darby. Photograph by John Brady.

Pat Maher ’14 finished with a team-high of 25 points while Taylor, Kyle Parker ’17, Tague Zachary ’15 and Aaron Levin ’14 all scored in double figures. During the game, Maher became the 22nd player in Grinnell College men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point career milestone. This comes following his setting the record for most assists made in a single NCAA game with 37 against College of Faith on Monday, Jan. 6.

The squad triumphed against Monmouth 121-115 in an exciting match on Tuesday. The Fighting Scots cut the lead to two with less than nine minutes in the second half. Moments later, Maher sank a jumper and three free throws to widen the visiting Pioneers’ lead to seven—from there, the team never looked back.

In the Monmouth game, Levin and Taylor led the team with 27 points each, while the former also grabbed seven rebounds. Maher had yet another solid performance with 18 points and eight assists. Cody Olson ’14 and Luke Yeager ’15 each scored 10 points.

“Our victory over Monmouth was bittersweet,” said associate coach David Arseneault Jr. ’09. “On one hand, we played well enough to get a much needed road win. On the other, we made a lot of mental errors and we didn’t come close to reaching our potential in terms of our execution.”

According to players, they knew the win was not a pretty one and that they have a lesson to learn from the victory.

“It was frightening to see how badly we played, yet promising to see that we could still pull out a win,” Zachary said.

Taylor added that the “defense and rebounding [were] inconsistent all night and it is something we must fix moving forward.”

The Pioneers will test what they learned on the road this weekend against Lake Forest College in Illinois. They will travel to the bordering state once again next Wednesday, Feb. 5 to compete against Knox.

Including those two, the Pioneers have six conference games remaining. Despite some tough competition awaiting the team, Arseneault is optimistic about the final weeks of the season.

“As we continue to face a lot of these teams for the second time this season, they’ll come in a lot more prepared for The System,” Arseneault admitted. “They’ve scouted our personnel and generally have a better idea of how to slow us down. It will be up to us to improve our execution if we want to stay one step ahead of our opponents.”

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