WINONA LAKE – After a slow start, Grace’s women’s basketball team held on late for a 63-57 win over Goshen on Saturday.
Haley Richardson put the team on her back late in the second half to spark the club. The forward for the Lady Lancers hit a hoop with the harm to give Grace a 53-49 lead, recorded a block and scored nine of her team-high 13 points in the final 10 minutes. Richardson finished with seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a whole lotta enthusiasm.
“Teams win national championships and put banners up on the wall by playing as a team, not through individual play, and this team knows that,” said Grace College head coach Scott Blum. “I have five girls that can score in double figures. We had four girls around that mark. That makes it hard for opponents to scout us. It gives us a lot of options. Tonight it was Haley’s turn to step up and lead us. Haley has been our energy person, and tonight she stepped in and really attacked. She finished and got some big boards and blocks for us.”
The Lady Lancers (9-9, 4-2 Crossroads League) overcame a slow start thanks to a tenacious defense. Grace held Goshen, an NAIA national semifinalist last year, to 37 percent shooting for the game.
Grace spread the wealth, producing 17 assists on 23 made field goals for the team’s most assists in eight games.
In the first quarter, Grace struggled with sloppy play. The Lady Lancers, playing their first home game in over a month, committed eight turnovers in the first four minutes.
Despite a poor offensive output, Grace’s defense kept the score close. The Maple Leafs (9-9, 3-3 CL) struggled to shoot 33 percent in the quarter and only led 18-16 after 10 minutes.
Kelsie Peterson scored five points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer to give Grace a momentary lead at 21-20. But Goshen ripped off eight unanswered points late in the half to pull ahead and remained on top 32-29 at the midway break.
Goshen was outshot 40 percent to 45 percent, but the Lady Lancers had 11 turnovers before halftime to hamper their cause. Hannah Adams led all players with seven points at halftime.
“We had to adjust from the last game at St. Francis where we scored just 14 points in the first half,” Blum said. “We’ve put in two new offenses in the past two days. That’s all we ran today. So, credit to the girls for buying in and creating in that situation. It took us a little time going in the first half today, but that third and fourth quarter we really started to see us settling in.”
Grace came out of the locker room with urgency. The Lady Lancers scored nine unanswered points to force a timeout from Goshen. Four different players for Grace scored in the 9-0 run, capped off with a 3-pointer from Peterson.
Minutes later another triple from Vironnica Drake gave Grace a six-point edge. The teams traded small runs to end the third quarter as Grace led 47-44 entering the final stanza.
Goshen refused to fade, however. The Maple Leafs scored seven straight to trim Grace’s margin to just one with 51 seconds on the clock. Richardson was fouled and promptly sank both free throws to give Grace a three-point cushion.
After forcing a turnover from Goshen, Drake made two more foul shots with 15 seconds left to ice the win.
Adams tallied 11 points off the bench with a pair of 3s.
Peterson finished with 10 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds, Drake amassed 9 points, 7 boards and 3 assists, and Patton added 5 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
Pam Miller chipped in six points and three assists, and Broghan Gamble scored four points off the bench.
“Our defense typically dictates our offense,” Blum said. “We really have to concentrate on defense, we will get our points. Our goal is to keep teams under 62 points. Tonight, we give up 57 and we got the win.”
The Lady Lancers face a stiff test next week, hosting the reigning NAIA champions Marian on Wednesday at 7 p.m.