ANGOLA, IND. -- The Trine University men's basketball team fell just short of Albion (Mich.) College, 76-73, in the championship game of the 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament at the MTI Center.
The game resembled everything you'd expect in a title game as the two teams played at a back-and-forth pace throughout the contest with nine ties and nine lead changes. Trine (19-8) used the opening minutes to build a seven-point advantage, 10-3, with 15:03 left in the first half. Albion (19-8) responded with a 7-2 scoring run and eventually evened the game at 14-14 at the 12:02 mark.
The Thunder didn't relinquish the lead and tallied five straight points on a free-throw by senior Ellis Cummings (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills), a jumper by fellow senior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) and then a dunk by Cummings to make it a 19-14 ball game with 10:38 to go in the half. Trine went on equal its five-point advantage two more times with the last one coming with a little under five minutes to play in the period after a jumper by Cummings that made the score, 30-25.
Albion then rattled off seven unanswered points to claim its first lead of the contest and was part of a larger 13-2 spurt to end the first period to lead by six points, 38-32, at the break.
Copeland connected on one-of-two free-throws to start the scoring in the seccond half and was the beginning of a 7-0 run by the Thunder that resulted in a one-point margin, 39-38, at the 16:48 mark. Trine later increased its lead back out to five points, 49-44, after senior Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) connected on a three-pointer with 11:17 to go.
The five-point advantage was the largest by either team the rest of the way and included a 64-59 advantage for the home team with under six minutes in regulation following a steal and layup by Smith. Albion stayed within striking distance and worked its way back to take a two-point lead, 70-68, with 2:22 remaining. Copeland then tied the game for the ninth time with a jumper at the 2:07 mark to make the score, 70-70.
Albion tallied a pair of free-throws and was followed by a jumper which gave the Britons a little distance with a four-point margin, 74-70, as the game approached the one-minute mark. A three-pointer by Langston Johnson (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Central) put Trine in good position, trailing by just a point with 49 seconds left.
Both teams missed on offensive opportunities following the Johnson triple, but a pair of freebies by Albion with just six seconds on the clock, put the Britons in the driver's seat with a three-point lead, 76-73. Trine's final shot attempt came of the hands of Smith, but came down in the grasp of an Albion defender allowing the Britons to hang on for the three-point victory.
Johnson led all Trine players with 19 points on seven-of-13 shooting (53.8 percent) and had three triples (three-of-eight) in addition to tallying four assists. Cummings was second in scoring with 17 points and had a team-high nine rebounds in addition to a game-high three blocked shots. Four of Smith's five made baskets came from behind the arc as he finished with 14 points to go along with four assists. Copeland rounded out the double-figure scorers with 13 oints and had eight boards.
Junior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) also had a solid game with eight rebounds and dished out a game-high five helpers.