WINONA LAKE – St. Francis picked up a pair of big wins in the Crossroads League Wednesday night, winning the men’s and women’s doubleheader basketball games at Grace.
St. Francis Women 60, Grace 55
A hard-fought Crossroads League contest went against Grace’s women’s basketball team in a 60-55 defeat to No. 20 St. Francis.
The Lady Lancers (8-9, 2-3 CL) struggled to shoot 33 percent on Wednesday but still led by seven in the third quarter.
But the Cougars (11-6, 3-2 CL) outscored Grace by five in the fourth quarter thanks in large part to the free throw line.
Grace was sluggish to start the new year offensively. The Lady Lancers missed their first eight field goals and did not score until Pam Miller’s free throws more than five minutes into the game.
USF pulled ahead 8-2 in the first quarter and led 13-5 at the quarter’s end. Grace shot a dreadful 10 percent from the floor (1-for-10) in the period.
Vironnica Drake and Micaela Box jumpstarted Grace’s attack in the second quarter with two 3-pointers. Lauren Godfrey hit another triple to cut the Cougars’ lead to 15-14, and Brooke Sugg hit the team’s fourth trifecta of the quarter to give Grace its first lead of the game.
The score remained close for the remainder of the half as the teams entered halftime knotted 27-27. Myriah Hoffman was a spark in the second quarter, scoring seven points for the Lady Lancers.
The Cougars hit a drought to start the third quarter. USF was held scoreless for the first 4:10 of the period, allowing the Lady Lancers to pull ahead 34-27 on a bucket by Kelsie Peterson. That junction marked the largest lead of the game for Grace.
The Cougars ended the quarter on a torrid pace, pouring in 15 points over the final five minutes. The game entered the final stanza tied again at 42-42.
The teams traded baskets to start the final quarter, but USF began to pull away thanks to the free throw line. The Cougars scored nine points – half of their points – from the foul line in the last quarter.
Grace was behind by five with 3:43 to play when Box sank a deep triple. The Lady Lancers misfired on their next two shots, however, and USF made Grace pay from the free throw line and eased out to the five-point win.
For the game, USF shot 21 more free throws than Grace and were called for 15 fewer fouls. Both sides struggled to shoot the ball with Grace at 33 percent and USF at 37 percent.
Hoffman scored a team-high 13 points in just under 14 minutes of action, going 3-of-3 from the 3-point line and shooting 4-of-5 overall.
Drake ended with 12 points and four rebounds, and Miller added 9 points, 4 assists and 4 boards. Box scored nine points off the bench, and Lexi Minix chipped in 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Grace ends the week on Saturday, playing at Goshen at 1 p.m. for a women’s and men’s doubleheader.
St. Francis Men 94, Grace 71
Grace’s men’s basketball team could not find a solution to No. 2 St. Francis on Wednesday in a 94-71 defeat.
The Lancers (7-10, 0-5 Crossroads League) were efficient on offense, but the Cougars (15-2, 5-0 CL) were even better. USF shot 57 percent from the floor for the game, including a sizzling 64 percent in the first half.
The first eight minutes went according to plan for Grace. The Lancers jumped out to an 18-13 lead thanks to back-to-back triples from the freshman duo of Matt Jennings and Haden Deaton.
But the game changed for good over the next four minutes. USF rattled off four 3-pointers to key a blistering 21-2 run. During that run, the Cougars scored 10 points on fastbreak opportunities as the Lancers struggled to keep pace.
Martin Schiele hit a 3-pointer with 4:37 left in the half to cut USF’s margin down to nine, but that proved to be the closest Grace would get for the rest of the contest.
The Cougars led 55-36 at halftime and maintained a 20-point cushion for nearly the entire second half.
Grace was effective on offense, shooting 54 percent from the game. The Lancers shot even better from beyond the arc, going 9-of-13 for a 69-percent clip. Grace had an assist on 21 of its 28 made field goals.
Jennings racked up 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with four assists, and Erik Bowen had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Deaton and Logan Godfrey each scored seven, Braxton Linville added five points and seven assists, and Jaret Sons hit two 3-pointers in 11 minutes of action.
The Lancers will look to get their first league win on Saturday at Goshen. The game, starting at 3 p.m., is the second half of a women’s and men’s doubleheader at Goshen.