February 20, 2016

Mid-game run spurs Wolverines to Senior Day win

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- Four players reached double figures and the Grove City College men's basketball team used a 33-6 over an 11-minute stretch spanning both halves to roll to an 85-67 victory over Thiel on Senior Day inside the Grove City College Arena Saturday afternoon.

Sophomore forward Andrew Beckman (Shelby, Mich./Shelby) led the Wolverines (18-7, 13-5 PAC) with 18 points and six assists while senior guard Joe Vermilya (Sylvania, Ohio/Southview) added 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Freshman guard Brandon Grider (Canton, Ohio/GlenOak) contributed 13 points off the bench while senior guard Stephen Tam (Hamilton, Mass./Hamilton-Wenham) dished a game-high seven assists.

Thiel's Khari Bess opened the scoring with a layup but Grove City got a pair of baskets from senior center Erik Carlstrom (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) as part of a 10-0 run to take an early 10-2 lead. The Tomcats (12-13, 10-8 PAC) battled back, tying the game at 15-15 and later leading 26-25 with 5:10 remaining in the half. The Wolverines, however, would get points from five different players to close the half on a 14-0 run and lead Thiel 39-26 at the break.

Tam led the Wolverines with 10 first-half points while Luke Kochka and Bess each had seven for the Tomcats.

Grove City started the second half on a 19-6 run to lead 58-32 on a three by freshman guard Gabe Goode (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) with 13:58 to play, and the Wolverines would lead by as much as 27 at 66-39 with 10:02 left. Thiel wouldn't go away quietly, putting together a 25-9 run to close within 11 at 75-64 with 2:14 remaining, but a three-point play by sophomore center Cory Huff (Kersey, Pa./Elk Country Catholic) proved to be the final dagger on the way to the 18-point victory.

Kochka led all scorers with 25 points while Bess added 19 and Mert Ozkaynak 11 for the Tomcats. Grove City shot 56 percent (31 of 55) from the floor and 78 percent (18 of 23) from the foul line while holding Thiel to just 34 percent (21 of 62) shooting. The Wolverines also recorded assists on 25 of their 31 field goals.

Grove City's 18 regular-season victories are the most for the program since the 1988-89 season, and their 13 conference wins are the most in program history.

Prior to tipoff, Grove City honored the four seniors playing in their final regular-season home game: Carlstrom, guard Isaiah Reeves (Pittsburgh, Pa./Perry), Tam and Vermilya.

With the victory, Grove City has clinched the No. 2 seed in next week's Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship Tournament. The Wolverines will host a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against the highest seed remaining from Monday night's opening round matchups --  No. 10 Washington and Jefferson at No. 7 Westminster and No. 9 Chatham at No. 8 Geneva.

Box Score

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