Trojans pounce on Panthers

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Justin Chapman | The Echo

The Taylor men’s basketball team claimed an upset win against No. 3 Davenport Monday night with the final score of 86–81.

The Trojans began the game fast and did not look back. They never trailed during the game and started the contest with a 16–4 lead.

The victory brings the Trojans’ season record to 6–0 after their win over Davenport, who are moving to the NCAA at the Division II level next year. The matchup also marked the first of the season against a ranked opponent. Some of the team’s young players contributed offensively.

Sophomore guard Evan Crowe finished with 24 points going 8–15 from the field, including 6–10 from behind the arc. Freshman point guard Mason Degenkolb added 21 points including hitting three out of his five 3-point attempts.

Crowe understands how crucial unselfish play and team chemistry can be to a successful game. The Trojans limited the Panthers rebounding prowess, earning the Trojans more possessions than the Panthers.

“I thought we did a really good job at rebounding because they had a lot of length and size. We came out strong which helped and set the tone for the whole game,” Crowe said.

This crew has been working hard leading up to playing against a nationally-ranked team. Head coach Josh Andrews spoke about the team’s mindset and focus going into Monday night’s matchup.

Andrews has been pleased with how coachable this year’s team has been. He notices that they embrace the tips they give them.

“They’ve been sponges to do the things that we’ve worked on. Whether that’s day-to-day habits inside of our offense or defense or adjustments in a game, and they’re doing a great job with that.”

The group’s effort paid off paid off for this game. The team had an impressive shooting performance, as they went 14–17 from the free throw line and 28–58 from the field overall, including 16–32 from 3-point range.

Past the halfway point in the second half, the Panthers cut Taylor’s lead to 69–66. Crowe responded with back-to-back 3-point shots to extend the lead to 75–66, giving the Trojans a cushion to finish the game.

“I’ll tell you the big one, and this sounds really funny or simple, but threes are worth more than twos,” said Andrews. “So when you make 15 threes or whatever it was, you’re going to put yourself in a position. You’re dangerous.”

Degenkolb feels the result gave the team a huge boost of confidence. He emphasized the certainty they had walking into the game.

“All that aside, I think we were pretty confident in our own abilities. Like I said, just knowing that when we play as a team and play for each other we can beat pretty much anybody,” Degenkolb said.

On Wednesday night, the Trojans defeated vote-receiving Ohio Christian 85–64 to improve their record to 7–0 for the first time since 2005–06.

The Trojans will open their Crossroads League schedule on Tuesday in Odle Arena against No. 16 Bethel. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“Photograph by Fayth Glock”