November 20, 2015

Wolverines hold off Kenyon in Coaches vs. Cancer Tourney

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. -- Senior guard Stephen Tam (Hamilton, Mass./Hamilton-Wenham) scored 17 points on 6-10 shooting and the Grove City College men's basketball team held off a late Kenyon comeback attempt as the Wolverines edged the Lords 69-67 in the opening game of the Geneva College Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Tournament at Metheny Field House on Friday evening.

Senior forward Caleb Knudsen (Saylorsburg, Pa./Pius X) added 14 points for the Wolverines (2-1) while senior guard Joe Vermilya (Sylvania, Ohio/Southview) recorded 13 points and team-highs of seven rebounds and three assists.

Tam would score the game's first five points as Grove City jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead, but Kenyon (0-2) would counter with a 15-4 run to take their first lead of the night at 15-13 at the 10:25 mark of the first half. A Tam layup would even the score at 15-15 and spark a 9-2 Grove City run that put the Wolverines up by five at 22-17 with 7:08 to play.

Kenyon would keep the margin at five points through the four-minute mark, but a layup by freshman guard Brandon Grider (Canton, Ohio/Glenoak) and a three by sophomore forward Cory Huff (Kersey, Pa./Elk County Catholic) would give Grove City their largest lead of the night at 34-24 with just under three minutes remaining. The Lords' Matt Shifrin would answer with a three-point play to start a 9-2 run and bring Kenyon within three for a 36-33 halftime score.

Tam led all scorers with 12 first-half points while Vermilya had seven to go with three rebounds and three assists. The Wolverines shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half but Kenyon kept the game close by going a perfect 14 for 14 at the foul line.

The Lords scored the first four points of the second half to extend their run to 13-2 and retake the lead at 37-36 just over a minute into the period, but sophomore center Andrew Beckman (Shelby, Mich./Shelby) hit a free throw to tie the score and consecutive layups by sophomore forward Jonathan Grim (New Castle, Pa./Mohawk) and junior forward Tyler McGrath (Pottstown, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) put Grove City back on top 41-38. A Brien Comey jumper and a Shifrin three would put Kenyon back on top 43-41 with 14:35 remaining in regulation, but a 9-0 Grove City run gave the Wolverines a 50-43 cushion at the 11:51 mark.

Kenyon would continue to battle, cutting the Grove City to one on four occasions, including twice under the final minute. After a Knudsen free throw put the Wolverines up by four with 41 seconds remaining, Shifrin would hit his third three of the night to close the gap to 66-65 with 35 seconds left. The Lords would then force a Wolverine turnover, but sophomore guard Seth Muck (Avon Lake, Ohio/Avon Lake) came up with a timely steal and would then hit a pair of clutch free throws with 13 seconds remaining to push the Wolverine lead back to three at 68-65.

Tim Connolly would miss a three-point attempt to tie the game but would grab his own miss and draw a foul with just two seconds remaining, converting both free throws to bring Kenyon within a single point once again at 68-67. Knudsen would collect the inbound and be fouled immediately. A make on the first attempt gave the Wolverines a 69-67 lead, and, though he missed the second, the Lords wouldn't have enough time to get a full-court heave off before time expired as Grove City held on for the victory.

For the game, Grove City shot 22-52 (42 percent) from the field, 5 for 16 (31 percent) from three-point range and 20 for 30 (67 percent) from the foul line. The Wolverines held a 38-34 edge on the boards, led by seven each from Vermilya and Beckman.

Connolly led all scorers with 19 points for the Lords while Shifrin added 16 off the bench. Grove City held Kenyon to 37 percent shooting, but the Lords went 24 for 28 from the line to keep the game close.

Grove City will play their second game of the tournament against Eastern tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.

Box Score

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