WINONA LAKE – Despite trailing by 14 points at halftime, Grace’s women’s basketball finished its season with a dramatic 68-62 comeback win over Roberts Wesleyan.
Saturday’s win secures third place for the Lady Lancers (18-16) at the NCCAA National Championships, tied for the best finish in team history.
Grace also earned the fourth-most wins in team history with 18 under first-year head coach Dan Davis.
Brooke Sugg wrapped up her career as the best player on the court on Saturday. The senior shined in the spotlight, producing 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Lady Lancers won despite being outrebounded by 16. Roberts Wesleyan also shot 46 percent for the game compared to 36 percent for Grace.
Grace’s defense won the day, however. RWC was forced into 28 turnovers, thanks to 11 steals by Grace. Those turnovers resulted in 33 points for the Lady Lancers.
Roberts Wesleyan scored on the first play of the game, and the Redhawks (15-17) led for the rest of the half.
Grace found itself behind 19-11 to end the first quarter as the Lady Lancers scored just three points for the final 6:25.
The Lady Lancers (18-16) suffered another scoring drought to end the second period as well. Grace had fought back to within 29-26 after a 3-pointer by Sugg.
But Grace did not score for the final 4:37 of the half; the Redhawks took advantage with a 14-0 run to close out the first half and claim a 40-26 lead at halftime.
RWC shot a sizzling 62 percent in the first half, a stark contrast from Grace’s 24-percent shooting performance.
The third quarter followed script as Grace started strong. The Lady Lancers scored 10 unanswered points to open up the period, including five points from Sugg and a 3-pointer by Vironnica Drake.
But Grace again struggled to end the quarter. The Lady Lancers only mustered two points over the final 4:43, and RWC owned a 51-42 lead entering the final 10 minutes.
The fourth quarter could not have started better for Grace. The Lady Lancers erupted for 11 unanswered points, including four from Kyannah Stull. The last points of that run came from a 3-pointer by Sugg, putting Grace ahead 53-51.
The Redhawks responded calmly to regain the lead twice, but each time Grace countered. Stull sank a midrange jumper with 4:12 remaining for a one-point lead. And with 2:07 remaining, Sugg drilled her sixth 3-pointer of the afternoon for a 63-60 lead. Her triple send the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center crowd into eruption and forced a timeout by the Redhawks.
Grace’s defense locked down RWC for the final three minutes as only one basket was scored by the Redhawks. Brooke Treadway helped secure the win with a pair of late free throws, and Drake added four more foul shots in the final two minutes.
The win officially ends the careers of graduating seniors Sugg, Lauren Godfrey and Pam Miller.
Stull, who was named to the NCCAA All-Tournament Team, produced 12 points and five boards, and Drake amassed 15 points, 4 assists, 3 boards and 3 steals.
Treadway posted 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals, Lexi Minix scored three points with two boards, and Miller added 2 points, 2 boards, 1 steal and 1 assist.