OLIVET, Mich. - Despite a career day from senior Ian Jackson (Indianapolis, Ind./Perry Meridian), the Trine University men's basketball team fell on the road to Olivet College 84-79. The loss drops the Thunder to 14-9 on the season and 7-5 in the MIAA, a game ahead of the Comets.
The two teams battled it out early as neither team could pull away in the opening 9 minutes. With the scored tied at 19-19 and 11:12 to play, the Comets made their run, out-scoring Trine 18-7 to take their largest lead of the half with 4:31 remaining. The Thunder reeled the score back in as they closed the gap to just five points as junior Todd Watkins (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Bernard) hit a layup with 12 seconds to play. However, Olivet closed out the half with a buzzer beating three by Dakotah Ellis as the Comets led it 48-40 at the break.
It was a tough start to the second half for the Thunder as Olivet pushed their lead to 15 twice early in the second half. Trine would answer back as they went on an 8-0 over a 4 minute stretch to cut the lead to seven points.
Over the final 10 minutes of the half, the two teams fought it out as the Olivet kept the Thunder at bay. Trine was forced to foul the Comets in the final minutes as the teams traded free throws over the last two minutes. Trine cut the deficit to just four, on a three-pointer by Jackson with just nine seconds to play but were unable to get any closer in the final seconds.
It was a career day for Jackson as he set a career-high with 44 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the floor. Jackson also hit 17-of-23 from the free throw line, setting a school record for attempts and tying the record for attempts made, and nabbing three steals. Watkins earned his first career double-double scoring 12 points, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds and making three steals. Senior Scott Rogers (Waterford, Mich./Kettering) also scored in double-digits, adding 10 points to go along with six rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore Dustin Hall (Fort Wayne, Ind./South Side) finished the afternoon with a game-high five steals and pulling down five rebounds.
Both teams shot nearly identical numbers from the floor, both hitting 50% of their shots. The Thunder made 27-of-54 while Olivet made 28-of-56 on the day.
The 44 points by Jackson ranks tied for the 7th most this season in NCAA Division III. It was also the most by an individual in an MIAA game since Hope's Will Bowser scored 46 in an overtime game against Kalamazoo on January 26, 2011.
Jackson's 23 free throw attempts breaks the record of 20 set by Brian White back on December 7, 1991 against Michigan-Dearborn. The 17 free throws made by Jackson tie him with four other players who share the record, which was mostly recently accomplished by Chris Singpiel against Spring Arbor during the 1993-94 season.
The Thunder, still looking to clinch the three seed in the MIAA tournament, will look to deny Calvin College from clinching the MIAA title as Trine heads to Grand Rapids on February 13 for an 8:00 p.m. game.