By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The Goshen College men’s basketball team came into Tuesday night’s home contest against Indiana Wesleyan University seeking its first Crossroads League victory of the 2012-13 season.
That was going to be a tall order against the Wildcats, who came to Goshen ranked No. 3 in the NAIA Division II poll.
The Maple Leafs (7-10 overall, 0-6 Crossroads) instead fell to IWU, 94-76 for their sixth consecutive loss.
The Wildctas (16-2, 5-1) rallied from an early 23-17 hole to outscore the Maple Leafs 26-8 over the remainder of the first half, and were up by 12 at halftime, 43-31.
IWU expanded that advantage out to 15 at 48-33 early in the second half, but Goshen put together a run to cut it to nine at 55-46.
The Wildcats, however, were able to hold off several Maple Leaf runs down the stretch and pull away late. IWU led by as many as 20.
Patrick Hopkins led the Wildcats with 22 points and 17 rebounds for a double-double. D.J. Bettinger added 14 points and Jordan Weidner chipped in with 12.
Stefon Luckey had 27 points to lead all scorers for Goshen. Thomas Leonard added 17, Matt Glick had 11 and Jerron Jamerson added 10 to round out a quartet of Maple Leafs in double figures.
The Wildcats dominated the boards, outrebounding the Maple Leafs, 39-22. Goshen managed just four offensive rebounds. IWU coach Greg Tonegal said his team’s early struggles were the result of taking some time to adapt to the Maple Leafs’ uptempo style.
“We started playing defense, not fouling, and we started hitting some shots,” Tonegal said.
The Maple Leafs return to action Thursday night on the road at Huntington University, where tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. They conclude a busy week on Saturday with a 3 p.m. home contest against Spring Arbor.
LOOSE LEAFS: The Maple Leafs’ current six-game losing streak is the longest since a five-game stretch in early January 2011 … Indiana Wesleyan’s 58-48 loss to Spring Arbor last Saturday was the first time in Tonagel’s eight-year tenure that the Wildcats have been held below 50 points … Depth is a strength for the Wildcats, as 15 players have seen game action for IWU so far in 2012-13. … The only Michiana player on the IWU roster is senior guard George Jones IV, a South Bend Clay product..