Luke Rinne, Director of Athletic Communications
ROMEOVILLE – The top seeded Lewis men’s basketball team held off an upset bid defeating eighth seeded Grand Valley State, 65-63, on Saturday evening in the opening round of the Midwest Regional at Neil Carey Arena. With the win, the Flyers improve to 25-5 and advance to Sunday’s regional semifinal against No. 4 Southern Indiana or No. 5 Ashland while Grand Valley ends its season at 19-13.
Lewis trailed 42-37 with 14:35 to play in the contest before going on a 16-4 run over the next five minutes to grab its largest lead of the game at 53-46 on a layup by Delaney Blaylock (Wyoming, Mich./Godwin Heights).
Grand Valley rattled off seven straight points in the span of 90 seconds to tie the game on a three-pointer from Ben Lubitz in transition from the left wing.
Kendale McCullum (Elgin, Ill./Elgin Larkin) gave the Flyers the lead right back with a layup nearly a minute later but Isaiah Brock converted on an alley-oop to even the score at 55.
McCullum made 1-of-2 free throws to put Lewis back in front but the Lakers ran off five in a row to take a four-point lead on a layup from Jeremiah Ferguson on the break with 3:08 to go.
Frank Vukaj (Davison, Mich./Davison) brought the Flyers to within a position hitting a layup with less than two minutes to play. That would be Lewis’ final made field goal of the contest. The Flyers got a stop on the other end and then McCullum was fouled driving to the hoop and hit 1-of-2 to make it a one-point game.
After another stop, McCullum was again fouled on a drive to the hoop and made both free throws to put Lewis back in front 61-60 with 0:41 left.
Ferguson drove to the basket but he stepped on the baseline with 0:31 left to give the ball back to the Flyers. The Lakers were forced to foul and fouled McCullum who hit both free throws to put Lewis up three with 0:23 left.
Grand Valley came back on the other end and got a bucket when Anthony D’Avanzo (Harwood Heights, Ill./Notre Dame) was called for basket interference on a shot from Jake Van Tubbergren with 0:11 to play.
The Lakers were again forced to foul and fouled Adam Pischke (Cary, Ill./Marian Central Catholic) who made both free throws to put Lewis up 65-62 with 0:10 left.
Grand Valley State had a chance to tie the game but the Flyers elected to foul Ferguson for a 1-and-1. Ferguson hit the first then after a timeout missed the second but got his own rebound. His 15-footer from the right baseline was off the mark and Brock got the rebound but was unable to get off a shot before the buzzer to end the game.
McCullum finished with a game-high 23 points while D’Avanzo added 11. Delaney Blaylock (Wyoming, Mich./Godwin Heights)finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. Lewis finished the game shooting 46 percent (22-for-48) from the floor, 3-of-11 from three but did shot 82 percent at the foul line. They outrebounded the Lakers 34-to-32.
Van Tubbergen led Grand Valley with 19 points, 17 in the second half, while Lubitz and Ferguson added nine points each. The Lakers shot 39 percent (24-for-61) from the floor, including 7-of-19 from three and only shot 62 percent (8-for-13) at the foul line.