OLIVET, MICH. -- The Trine University men's basketball team nearly erased a 21-point first half deficit and got to within eight points late in the game, but it was not meant to be as the Thunder fell to Olivet (Mich.) College, 90-78, in a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association game at Cutler Event Center in Olivet, Mich.
The first half began with a three-pointer by Trine's Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) and the Thunder later had a one-point edge, 9-8, with a little over 17 minutes to go in the period when Olivet (11-10, 7-3 MIAA) went on a 16-0 scoring run to take a 15-point margin, 24-9, with 12:53 remaining before halftime. The Comets later broke the 20-point plateau at the 9:24 mark on a pair of free-throws that also gave the home team its largest lead of the game of 21 points, 33-12, with 9:24 left.
Following the two Olivet freebies, Trine (15-6, 8-2 MIAA) responded with 12 unanswered points of its own that began and ended with a jumper by junior Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) to pull the Thunder to within nine points, 33-24, with a little over five-and-a-half minutes left before the break.
Olivet extend the deficit back to over double figures on its ensuing possession with a three-pointer and the advantage hovered around the 10-point mark for the Comets for the remainder of the half. Trine narrowed the gap to single digits nearing the end of the half after two free-throws by senior Ellis Cummings (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills) that ended a string of four straight points and made it a 44-35 ball game. But the Comets tacked on a final basket before time expired in the period to take an 11-point lead into the locker rooms with a score of 46-35.
In the second half, Olivet gradually began to pull away and had a 19-point margin at the 11:21 mark by a score of 69-50. The Comets maintained a sizeable advantage with an 18-point lead, 77-59, with just over seven minutes to go when Trine looked to make a rally by outscoring its opponent, 15-5, over the next 5:03 to get to within eight points, 82-74, and ended with a pair of free-throws by junior Langston Johnson (Elkart, Ind./Elkhart Central).
Trine trailed by eight points two more times down the stretch, but could not get any closer as Olivet put the game away at the free-throw line en route to posting the 90-78 final.
Senior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) led Trine in scoring with a game-tying and season-high 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting (73.3 percent), including seven-of-eight (87.5 percent) at the free-throw line. He also finished second on the team in rebounding with six boards and tallied a team and game-tying high five assists.
Hunter also had a strong night for the Thunder offensively with a season-high 23 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds. Smith rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points.
Junior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) tied Copeland in assists with five.
Trine will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich. for a MIAA contest against Calvin (Mich.) College on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.