ANGOLA, IND. -- Junior guard Langston Johnson (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Central) scored a career-high 28 points as the Trine University men's basketball team defeated Hope (Mich.) College, 81-67, in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Assocation opener at the MTI Center in Angola, Ind.
Johnson scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half and shot 11-of-17 from the floor (64.7 percent), including connecting on five three-pointers (five-of-seven). Senior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) also had a big second half with 13 points to end the game with 16 points overall and also grabbed a game-tying high eight rebounds.
The Thunder out-rebounded the Flying Dutchmen, 42-32, and junior Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) finished just behind Copeland with seven boards.
Both teams played a back-and-forth game in the first half as the two teams battled to a tie five times and swapped leads eight times. Trine (8-4, 1-0 MIAA) led by two points early, when Hope (7-5, 0-1 MIAA) recorded its first lead of the game with an ensuing 7-0 scoring run to take a five-point margin, 9-4, with 16:28 to go in the half.
Trailing by a point, 15-14, Trine grabbed momentum with a 7-0 run of its own that ended with a three-pointer by Smith to make the score, 21-15, at the 7:43 mark. Neither team would lead by more than five points the rest of the way as the Thunder took a four-point margin into the locker rooms with a halftime score of 33-29.
The second half saw the Trine offense explode for a 22-6 run to begin the period and grab a 20-point lead, 55-35. Johnson scored 14 points during the run which included three of his five triples on the night.
Trine looked to be headed to an easy victory, but the Dutchmen would not go away and trimmed the lead to single figures with a series of small runs and pulled to within eight points, 64-56, with 6:50 to go in regulation. A free-throw by senior Ellis Cummings (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills) and a tre by Langston extended the lead back to double figures for Trine and made it a 68-56 game at the 5:52 mark.
Hope cut the deficit back to eight points late in the game, 75-67, but that was as close as the Dutchmen got as the Thunder put the game away with six unanswered points to cap the scoring and go on to post the 81-67 victory.
Trine will remain at home and take on Olivet (Mich.) College in a MIAA matchup at the MTI Center on Saturday, Jan. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.