SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Late heroics from Vironnica Drake lifted the Grace College women’s basketball team to a 61-58 win on Saturday at Spring Arbor.
Drake converted an and-1 with two seconds left on the clock to hand the Lady Lancers (10-10, 5-3 Crossroads League) a dramatic victory.
The win also keeps Grace in fourth place in the league standings, just two games behind the league lead.
Drake led Grace with 14 points, and Haley Richardson added 13 points and five rebounds.
The first quarter started evenly until a late push gave Spring Arbor a cushion. The hosts ended the quarter on a 12-0 run over the final 3:17 and pulled ahead 20-10 by quarter’s end.
The second quarter belonged to Grace. The Lady Lancers scored 20 points — seven from Richardson — to keep the pressure on the Cougars. Richardson converted an and-1 with 13 seconds left to cut Spring Arbor’s lead down to 32-30 at halftime.
Broghan Gamble gave Grace a spark off the bench in the second quarter with five points.
In the third quarter, Grace fell behind by 11 and was forced to call timeout at 45-34. But the Lady Lancers responded with two straight 3-pointers from Gamble and Kelsie Peterson to trim the Cougars’ lead to five with three minutes left in the period.
Grace still trailed 50-46 entering the final quarter.
To start the fourth, Chloe Pridgen muscled her way to an and-1 in the post to make the score 50-49. Grace had several chances over the next few possessions to take the lead but came up empty. The Cougars eventually scored two possessions in a row to reestablish a five-point cushion.
The margin remained razor-thin for the final minutes. Grace continued to make defensive stops, and Peterson drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56-56 with just over two minutes to play.
After another defensive stand, Haley Richardson scored only for the Cougars to answer to tie the game.
The Cougars had the ball with 39 seconds remaining and the game knotted 58-58. But a strong defensive effort by Grace forced a turnover and gave the Lady Lancers a chance for the win.
Drake patiently dribbled down the final seconds and slashed to her right. She flipped up a shot under contact and sank the floater while being fouled with two seconds on the clock.
Drake calmly sank the free throw to extend Grace’s lead to three, and the Lady Lancers secured the victory by forcing a turnover on SAU’s last possession.
Drake hit 10-of-11 from the foul line for her 14 points, adding three assists. Pridgen (11 points) and Gamble (8) provided an offensive lift off the bench. The pair shot 6-of-9 from the floor, and Pridgen had a team-high six rebounds.
Peterson scored nine points with four boards, and Pam Miller finished with two points and five rebounds.
The Lady Lancers will host a pair of games next week, including No. 12 Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday and Taylor on Saturday.