Alma, Mich. - For the second time in two days, the Alma College men's basketball team took a nationally ranked team down to the wire and came up just short, falling 86-81 to No. 19 Illinois Wesleyan on Saturday (Nov. 17).
Junior Kyle Woodruff (Grand Blanc, Mich. / Holly) scored a game-high 33 points and poured in seven three-pointers, one shy of the program record for threes in a game. He also added nine rebounds. All five Alma starters scored in double-figures, with Ryan Stevens (Lowell, Mich. / Lowell) and Kevin Gamble (Mt. Pleasant, Mich. / Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart) coming in behind Woodruff with 13, each. Stevens handed out six assists, while Gamble hauled in seven rebounds, as well.
Down by as many as eight points late in the second half, Alma cut the deficit to three after a Woodruff three-pointer with 46 seconds remaining. The Titans' Brady Rose missed a jumper on the other end, but Jason Gregoire gathered the offensive rebound and the Scots were forced to foul with 18 seconds left. Rose hit both free throws to ice the game.
Rose led IWU with 30 points. Gregoire added 18 and Charlie Blair put up 14 points and 12 rebounds.
- Alma led in the early stages of the game, though the Titans stayed within two possessions until Gamble hit a three to take a 25-17 lead midway through the first half.
- From there, IWU would tie the game at 28 with a 9-2 run but the Scots continued to apply pressure, with Gamble converting an and-1 after an offensive rebound to break the tie.
- Alma maintained the lead despite the Titans keeping it close. Alma's biggest lead over the final three minutes of the first half was five points until Woodruff sank a three to give the Scots a 43-36 lead with 1:11 left. Illinois Wesleyan converted a layup and free throw to cut the Scots' lead to four at the break.
- The beginning of the second half was back-and-forth; the two teams traded the lead five times in the opening four minutes before IWU took it for good.
- Jason Gregoire broke a 50-50 tie with a layup, then added another after an Alma turnover. A jumper by Rose gave the Titans' an eight-point advantage, their biggest of the game.
- An and-1 from Cole Kleiver (Williamston, Mich. / Williamston) and a three from Stevens cut Illinois Wesleyan's lead to two, but Alma couldn't tie the game. A quick 8-2 run brought the momentum back in IWU's favor with a 69-61 lead.
- Both teams continued to trade buckets late into the half with Woodruff and Rose trading threes. A layup from Steven Harvey (Grand Rapids, Mich. / Forest Hills Eastern) brought Alma to within four at 84-80 with 57 seconds left when Illinois Wesleyan's Colin Bonnett was called for a technical foul. Woodruff made one of two free throws to make it a one-possession game, but the Scots couldn't grab the rebound off a missed shot by Rose.
- Alma was forced to foul after the offensive board and Rose sank both free throws to make it 86-81. Both Harvey and Kleiver missed threes that could have extended the game, and the Titans dribbled out the clock.
- Kyle Woodruff's seven three-pointers are the most in a game since Steven Harvey tied the school record with eight threes in February 2017.
- Alma shot 50-percent from three-point range in the first half, led by Woodruff who made four of his seven attempts. The Scots ended the game shooting 37-percent (13-of-35) from deep.
- Kevin Gamble led all players at the half with 13 points while adding five rebounds.
- Ryan Stevens is fifth on the all-time program list with 256 assists, 22 behind fifth place.
Alma's next nine games are on the road. The Scots begin with a trip to North Central College (IL) on Saturday, Nov. 24 for a game at 6:00 p.m.