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Grace explodes after halftime to beat Huntington

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s women’s basketball team opened up the postseason with a 75-65 win over Huntington on Tuesday.

The Lady Lancers (17-14) used a dynamic second half to eliminate the Foresters (16-14) from the Crossroads League Tournament.

Grace scored 48 points after halftime thanks to shooting 68 percent from the floor and 86 percent from the free throw line.

Brooke Sugg led all players with 23 points, burying four 3-pointers in a strong performance.

The Lady Lancers advance to the tournament semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. Grace will take on regular season champion Marian in Indianapolis. The tournament championship is Monday with the winner to receive an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships.

The first half was action-packed from the tipoff. Emotions ran high as each team tried to get an early advantage.

Lexi Minix was aggressive on offense in the first quarter, scoring five points. But Huntington buried a trio of 3-pointers in the quarter and held a 17-13 lead after 10 minutes.

The Foresters maintained their slight lead and led by eight with 3:37 remaining in the first half. But Grace’s defense locked down Huntington, holding the visitors scoreless until halftime.

Kaylie Warble scored on back-to-back possessions, Vironnica Drake hit a baseline jumper, and Sugg’s 3-pointer tied the score. The teams entered the halftime locker room knotted 27-27.

Grace’s momentum continued into the third quarter. The Lady Lancers shot 71 percent from the floor, doubling their output with another 27 points in the 10-minute period.

The Lady Lancers opened the quarter with an 11-3 run, capped off by a deep 3-pointer from Sugg to make the score 38-30.

Grace continued to score in bunches and eventually pulled ahead 52-41 after another triple by Sugg with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter.

Huntington refused to let Grace run away with the game, however. The Foresters clawed back into the game thanks to a tenacious fullcourt defense.

Grace turned the ball over five straight possessions in the fourth quarter. As a result, Huntington sliced the Lady Lancers’ lead down to four at 60-56 with 5:22 left in the game.

Pam Miller stopped Huntington’s spree with a pair of free throws, and Drake added two more foul shots to establish an eight-point cushion.

Huntington was forced to foul to extend the game, and Grace made the Foresters pay. The Lady Lancers sank nine free throws over the final 95 seconds of the contest to seal the win.

Drake poured in 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Micaela Box tallied 10 points, 4 assists and 4 boards.

Minix scored nine points, Miller had 5 points, 7 boards and 2 assists, and Warble chipped in eight points in 14 minutes.

Grace shot 47 percent from the floor compared to 37 percent for Huntington. Grace did turn the ball over 19 times, but they owned a plus-11 advantage in rebounds.