Georgetown College men's basketball usually breezes through its fall semester, but there are legitimate challengers on the schedule this year.
Fellow NAIA tournament contenders Vanguard and Washington Adventist, to name two, will test the defending national champions.
And for the second consecutive season, Louisville's Simmons College put up an impressive fight, trailing by two points early in the second half Saturday afternoon before the Tigers pulled away for an 88-64 win at Davis-Reid Alumni Gym.
Chris Coffey led GC (3-0) with 22 points and 16 rebounds and enjoyed a nearly perfect day shooting the ball, 8-for-9 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Another of last year's title-winning stars, Eljay Cowherd, also registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists.
Newcomers were outstanding, as well, led by junior transfer Jake Ohmer's 21 points, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Redshirt freshman Kyran Jones hit five of his six tries from the floor and finished with 10 points.
Montrell Little fueled the Falcons with 15 points. Jonathon Henry added 14 and Korey Mosley 10 for Simmons, which played GC similarly tough in a 75-59 loss last year.
Simmons used a 14-3 run at the close of the first half to sneak within 40-35 in the encore, then twice cut it to a two-point margin out of intermission before threes by Cowherd and Ohmer capped an 8-0 surge.
Georgetown hammered out a 50-29 advantage on the glass and held Simmons to 37 percent shooting to spark its getaway.
The Tigers threatened to put it away early, using an 11-2 push to take a 13-5 lead out of the gate. Coffey collected six points, including four from the line, during that span. Ohmer nailed his initial 3-pointer.
Cowherd made it a 37-21 lead on his bucket with 3:28 remaining in the half. Simmons heated up from the perimeter to make a game of it, with Deondray Latta and Damon Moore each draining late threes. Coffey already had double-digit points (17) and rebounds (10) at the half.
Friday night’s warm-up for the weekend, like Tuesday's rout of Miami University-Middletown, was no contest. GC scored the first 15 points, held Ohio-Chillicothe scoreless past the five-minute mark and coasted to a 106-43 victory.
Jacob Conway continued his hot hand for the Tigers, sinking six 3-pointers for the second consecutive game to start the regular season.
The other returning Tiger who played in last year's Kansas City title run along with Cowherd and Coffey, Conway canned 20 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 26.
No less scorching from beyond the arc was Siena transfer Nico Clareth, who hit five 3-pointers and finished with 25 points, five assists and four steals.
Puoch Puoch put up 22 points in his second collegiate contest, backed up by Jones' 11 and Michael Turay's eight.
It was a relatively quiet night in the scoring column for Coffey and Cowherd, but the four-year mainstays made ample contributions. Cowherd stuffed the stat sheet with six points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and six steals, while Coffey coupled a team-high eight rebounds with his six points
GC forced Ohio-Chillicothe into 30 turnovers. That triggered the Tigers' transition game and played a major role in a sizzling 61.8 percent clip from the field.
Hayden Mink led the Hilltoppers with 10 points. Ohio-Chillicothe shot only 32.7 percent.
The zero stayed on the guests' side of the scoreboard until Mink made the first Hilltopper hoop with 14:31 left in the half. GC used another 14-0 run to nearly double the lead after Ohio-Chillicothe clawed within 32-17 at the 7:03 mark.
It was 65-28 at the break, with Cowherd already responsible for 11 assists at that stage.
GC improved to 6-0 in the five-year-old series. The teams will meet again Dec. 13 at Davis-Reid.
The Tigers host Washington Adventist on Saturday.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.