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Monday February 26, 2024
Norse Cruise Past Grand Rapids; Stay Undefeated

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Ezra Brown and Coach Matt Johnson. Also click the AUDIO link to hear from Grand Rapids native Genesis Kemp.

The 19th-ranked Bay College Norse men's basketball team cruised to an 97-82 road win over Grand Rapids Community College on Saturday to maintain a two-game lead atop the MCCAA North Conference standings with five games left in the regular season.

The Norse jumped to an early 20-4 lead and had leads as big as 37 points (75-38) in the second half before the Raiders got on a hot shooting streak to cut their deficit in half. But Bay had more than enough firepower to hold off the Raiders and extend their conference winning streak to 23 games, going back to last year's championship season.

"I should be happy, right, but that's just the coach in me," Norse Coach Matt Johnson said. "We've just need to be better. Getting up by that (37 points) was great, but taking our foot off the gas, and let somebody chip back at it, we just can't allow that to happen. We've got to be more ficused and more disciplined. At some point, it's gonna come back and bite us."

Sophomore Genesis Kemp paced the Norse on Saturday as he returned to his hometown to play one last game. He scored a team-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, and he pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Bay had four men score in double figures.

"It felt good to be back," Kemp said. "It felt good to play against my team, we had some good ones in the past. seing everybody that I played against. A couple of them are on the (GRCC) team. A lot of memories. A lot of good friends and former teammates that I talk to to this day. I left there on a good note. Made me miss home a little bit, but it's all love."

Besides Kemp's 22 points, Joe Ofori chipped in 19 points, and he grabbed eight rebounds. Ryan Sweeney contributed 17 points, and Ezra Brown, filling in for an injured Kairee Gadson (wrist) made four of his five three-point attempts and ended up with 16 points.

"I felt good," Brown said. "I started strong. I had to just mentally be there, be on every ball I could be on. Just outwork everybody, and hit shots when I needed to. I just wish we could've finished better, though. I think we got really comfortable and we started slowing down, thinking that we had won the game already. We've just got to finish."

Baril Mawo added nine points and eight rebounds for the Norse.

For Grand Rapids (11-13 overall, 3-6 MCCAA), sophomore Tristan McRoberts led the way with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor. Jovante Jones added 16 points, and Jack Agema came off the bench to make all six of the shots he took, three of them from three-point land, to finish with 15 points.

Bay badly out-rebounded GRCC, 48-26, and the Norse shot 52.2 percent from the floor, making 36 of 69 shots. The Norse connected on 12 of the 20 triples they attempted.

"I think we had some guys play really, really well," Johnson said. "Ezra played really, really well. Genesis had a great showing here in his hometown. Some guys did some reallly nice things. Everybody that played did something good. I just thought our overall team effort when they made their run wasn't good enough."

The win improved Bay's record to 22-2 overall, and 9-0 in MCCAA play. The Norse kept its lead over second place Mid Michigan (15-7, 7-2), which rallied on Saturday from a 45-37 second half deficit to beat North Central Michigan, 92-71, in Mt. Pleasant.

Bay College travels to Alpena to face the Lumberjacks on Wednesday evening. Alpena (8-11 overall, 6-3 MCCAA) moved into third place in the conference standings after posting a 73-69 win at Muskegon on Saturday.

Wednesday's game starts at 7:30 and will be broadcast live on Maverick 106,3 FM, and on-line through the AUDIO link at www.baynorse.com.

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