ANGOLA, IND. -- The Trine University men's basketball team moved back into a tie for first place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association with a 68-61 overtime win against Albion (Mich.) College at the MTI Center.
The win against Albion puts Trine in a tie with the Britons with matching 9-3 records heading into the final week of the regular season. The top five teams in the conference standings are within two games of each other with two games remaining on the schedule for each team.
Senior Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) scored a game-high 23 points with 21 of those points coming from behind the arc with seven triples (seven-of-12 overall) and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Fellow senior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) was second in scoring with 18 points and senior Ellis Cummings (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills) rounded out the top scorers with 10 points and also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Albion (16-6, 9-3 MIAA) opened up to a 9-2 lead early in the first half, but Trine (15-7, 9-3 MIAA) narrowed the deficit down to one point, 11-10, after a three-pointer by Smith at the 15:11 mark. The Britons later scored a three-pointer of their own to make it a four-point game, 14-10, but then both teams went scoreless for the next 3:56.
The Britons finally ended the scoring drought with just under 10 minutes to go in the half on a jumper to increase the margin to six points, 16-10. Trine later pulled even with Albion by outscoring the Britons, 10-4, following the early basket to make the score 20-20 with 5:34 to go in the period after a layup by Copeland.
Both teams traded baskets on its next trips down the floor to keep the game even, but Albion then went on an 8-0 scoring run to lead, 30-22, at the 2:32 mark. The visitors later matched their eight-point advantage one more time before the end of the half, but a layup by junior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) ended the scoring for both teams and narrowed the deficit to six points, 32-26, at the intermission.
A three-pointer by Albion to begin the second half gave the Britons their largest lead of the game of nine points by a score of 35-26. Momentum then began to swing in favor of Trine as the Thunder outscored Albion, 23-4, over the course of the next 10:44 to take a double-digit lead, 49-39, with eight-and-a-half minutes to play in regulation.
The margin would be the largest of the game for Trine, but Albion responded with an ensuing 15-4 run of its own to regain a marginal lead of, 54-53, with 4:14 to go. Later in the period, another three-pointer by Smith gave Trine a 56-54 advantage with 2:41 remaining and the Thunder later increased the margin to three points, 58-55, with 1:31 left. A three-pointer by Albion at the 1:14 mark evened the game at 58-58, but neither team could net the go-ahead basket despite both teams having opportunities in the final minute of the game, forcing overtime.
In the overtime period, Trine broke the stalemate with the first points of the frame on a layup by Copeland to make it a 60-58 game. Following a 3:19 scoring drought by both teams, the Thunder added to the lead with a three-point play by Cummings that made the score, 63-58, with 1:24 on the clock. Albion would get to within four points twice down the stretch, but Trine was able to hold the Britons off as a free-throw by Winters and a layup by Smith just before time expired, sealed the victory for the Thunder with a final score of 68-61.
Trine will play its final road game of the regular season on Wednesday, Feb. 13 when it travels to Kalamazoo, Mich. for a MIAA matchup against Kalamazoo College. The two teams are scheduled to square-off at 7:30 p.m.