MOUNT VERNON – A fast-paced men's basketball game ended in abrupt fashion Wednesday night as Luke Yeager went the length of the court for the game-winning bucket with 1.7 seconds left to propel Grinnell to a 119-117 Midwest Conference victory over Cornell before a big crowd in the Small Multi-Sport Center.
The host Rams (5-8 overall, 4-4 MWC) ran with the nation's highest-scoring team in an entertaining affair that saw the lead switch hands five times in the final three minutes. Reggie Greenwood gave Cornell its last lead at 115-113 on a pair of free throws with 1:16 remaining.
Grinnell (9-3, 6-2 MWC) tied it and then regained the lead at 117-115 on two foul shots by Griffin Lentsch with 15 seconds to go. Cornell's Alex Miller drew a foul with six seconds left and calmly hit two free throws to even the score at 117-117.
Following a Cornell timeout, Yeager took the inbounds pass, dribbled coast-to-coast and lofted a running shot in the lane off the board for the decisive points. Cornell's desperation heave at the buzzer was well off the mark and Grinnell came out victorious in a game it trailed most of the way.
Yeager capped a 15-of-27 shooting night with 35 points. Lentsch, who went 15-of-38 from the field, led all scorers with 48 points, 33 coming after intermission.
Junior forward Joey Guth went 12-of-17 from the field and pumped in a career-high 29 points for the Rams, who shot 59.7 percent (40-of-67) for the game. Sophomore Nick Bobb recorded a double-double with a career-best 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Miller and freshman Peter Catchings chipped in 16 and 15 points, respectively. Junior post David Fischer had 12 points and seven rebounds in his first extensive action of the season since coming off an injury.
Cornell connected on 35-of-43 free throws, coming within one made foul shot of the single-game school record. The Rams did set a program mark for most rebounds in a game with 56, while limiting the Pioneers to 30.
The Rams were in control early, building their biggest lead at 62-41 late in the first half and taking a 69-57 advantage into intermission. Grinnell went ahead 95-94 with 8:05 remaining, marking its first lead of the game since the opening six minutes.
Sophomore Joshua Olberding delivered five of Cornell's 26 assists. Greenwood and Ben Knake had four assists apiece.
Grinnell jacked up 49 3-point shots, making 15. The Rams went 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. The Pioneers attempted 92 total shots, to Cornell's 67.
The Rams turned the ball over 32 times, while Grinnell had just 13.
Grinnell sophomore Jack Taylor, the nation's leading scorer at 38.6 points per game, had just 11 before leaving the game with an injury late in the first half.
Coming up – The Rams travel to play Beloit (7-6, 5-3 MWC) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12 in Beloit, Wis. The Buccaneers fell 74-72 Wednesday at Carroll.