Leading by four points at the half, the Trine University men's basketball team outscored Kalamazoo (Mich.) College, 49-36, in the second period to come away with an 86-39 victory against the Hornets and grabbed the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association opener for both teams at the MTI Center.
Senior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) improved upon his career-high point total that he set earlier this year with 23 points against KZOO to lead all players in scoring. He shot 50.0 percent from the field (eight-of-16) to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
Junior Jake Daniels (Grand Blanc, Mich./Holly) also scored in double figures with 19 points that included five made field goals from three-point range. Freshman Brent Cox (Kendallville, Ind./East Noble) fell a rebound shy of completing his second double-double of the season with 12 points and a game-high nine boards.
Senior Langston Johnson (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Central) tallied a game-tying best six assists and was second on the team in rebounding with six.
The teams battled to nine lead changes and five ties in the first half with the largest lead by either team being four points. Kalamazoo (3-9, 0-1 MIAA) led by as many as three points multiple times with the last one coming at the 9:58 mark by a score of 22-19 following a three-pointer. Ensuing back-to-back jumpers by Trine's (7-5, 1-0 MIAA) Winters and senior Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) put the Thunder back out in front by a point, 23-22.
On the Hornets' next offensive possession, KZOO struck again from deep to regain a slight edge before a layup by Winters began a 5-0 mini scoring run for the Thunder that put Trine out in front for the remainder of the half. Trine led by as many as four points several times down the stretch, including a 37-33 margin following a basket by Langston Johnson that ended the scoring in the period.
Trine never relinquished the lead in the second half, despite maintaining just a one-point advantage in the early minutes. A 7-0 run that began and ended with baskets by Winters, gave the Thunder some breathing room with an eight-point lead at the 17:19 mark. The run was part of a larger 15-5 spurt and resulted in Trine's first double-digit lead of the contest, 54-43, following a jumper by Hunter with just under 15 minutes to go.
KZOO then looked to rally and worked its way back to within four points, 55-51, with 12:41 to play. But an ensuing 10-0 run by Trine extended the lead back to double figures to take control of the game as the margin didn't drop below the double-digit mark the rest of the way.
Winters later gave Trine its largest lead of the game of 17 points, 78-61, thanks to two free-throws that came with 3:46 remaining. The Thunder then equaled their largest lead just before time expired as Trine went on to claim the 86-69 win.
Trine will remain home to host Alma (Mich.) College in a MIAA matchup on Saturday, Jan. 11 at the MTI Center. The two teams are set to tip-off at 3 p.m.
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