WINONA LAKE – The Grace College women’s basketball team advanced to the NCCAA Midwest Regional championship with a convincing 74-59 victory over Oakland City on Thursday night.
Allison Kauffman poured in a career-high 26 points, and Juaneice Jackson scored 21 to lead the Lady Lancers into Saturday’s regional title bout at Cedarville University at 2 p.m.
Playing their final game in the Orthopaedic Capital Center before the 2013 NCCAA National Championships, Grace took command of the contest with an early 23-4 spurt. The Lady Lancers (19-13) had trailed 7-6 in the early minutes of the game before their momentum-shifting run handed Grace a double-digit lead they maintained the rest of the game.
Jackson was nearly impossible to stop in the first half, slicing and driving her way to 17 points before halftime. Grace held a 39-27 lead at the break.
The Lady Oaks (13-13) made a push to trim Grace’s advantage to 11 points at 41-30 with 19:01 to play.
But within seven minutes, the Lady Lancers had opened up a 20-point lead after back-to-back scores from Sarah Feasby. Feasby finished 4-of-4 shooting from the field for eight points and two steals off the bench.
Grace was strong in the post against Oakland City, resulting in a 30-14 advantage in points in the paint. The Lady Lancers also outrebounded the Lady Oaks 39-26 thanks to 16 offensive boards.
Kauffman’s career-best 26 points came with 11 rebounds. She made 13-of-15 from the foul line and added two assists.
Emily Bidwell produced eight points, five rebounds and three steals, and Kelsey Sule tallied three assists off the bench.
Grace will try to earn the program’s first NCCAA Regional championship on Saturday at Cedarville University. The Lady Lancers will play in their fifth straight NCCAA Nationals regardless of Saturday’s result as Grace serves as the host institution for the national tournament.
The NCCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s National Basketball Championships will be held March 13-16 at the Orthopaedic Capital Center. Visit www.grace.edu/athletics/nccaa for more information.