Grace scores big upset over No. 25 USF
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The late-season surge continued on Wednesday for Grace’s women’s basketball team thanks to a 70-63 upset of No. 25 St. Francis.
The Lady Lancers (15-12, 9-6 Crossroads League) secured their fifth straight win. Grace sits in a two-way tie for fourth place in the league standings with three games remaining.
Vironnica Drake was an offensive force, leading all scorers with 26 points and five boards on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
Grace erased an 15-point deficit against the Cougars (16-11, 8-7 CL), using a dominant defensive effort in the second half to seal the upset.
The Cougars started the game strong offensively, scoring at least 19 points in each of the first two quarters. USF made its first three shots, but Kamryn Hostetler kept Grace close with back-to-back 3-pointers.
USF was lethal on offense in the first half and slowly pulled away. The Cougars hit four 3-pointers early in the second quarter to earn the largest lead of the game at 37-22.
But Grace responded calmly and scored eight unanswered points—six from Drake—to keep pressure on USF.
The Cougars led 39-31 at halftime after shooting a blistering 58 percent from the floor and 54 percent on 3-pointers (7-of-13). Drake’s 11 points paced Grace.
Grace started the second half with a flurry. Brooke Treadway made a layup, and Brooke Sugg buried a 3-pointer to chop USF’s lead down to three.
Drake then scored in the paint and later drilled a trifecta to complete a 10-0 run, putting the Lady Lancers ahead 41-38.
Grace’s defense was instrumental in its comeback; over an 8-minute stretch that spanned the second and third quarters, USF was stifled into scoring just two points.
The score remained close for the remainder of the third quarter with Drake powering Grace’s attack. Drake buried a stepback jumper on the baseline in the waning seconds, handing the Lady Lancers a 48-47 lead entering the fourth quarter.
USF did its best to seize momentum in the fourth, scoring eight points in the first three minutes of the period.
Hostetler caught fire at that point, however. She converted an and-1 and then connected on a deep 3-pointer for a 58-57 lead for Grace with 6:28 remaining.
The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes, and a driving score by Kyannah Stull gave the Lady Lancers a 62-61 advantage.
Grace’s defense gave the team a boost late; Grace forced the Cougars into three straight turnovers, including two before USF had even crossed halfcourt.
Sugg buried a clutch 3-pointer with 1:17 remaining for a four-point edge, and she was fouled after the shot which gave Grace a new possession.
After a missed shot, Sugg grabbed the offensive rebound which helped burn off valuable seconds and resulted in a pair of free throws from Stull.
Grace secured the win with three more free throws down the stretch.
Hostetler tallied 12 points after hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, and Sugg added 10 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
Stull produced 9 points, 4 boards and 2 steals, Kaylie Warble scored nine points with four rebounds, and Treadway grabbed a game-high seven boards with two blocked shots.
Grace shot 52 percent overall in the second half, 46 percent from beyond the arc and 89 percent (8-of-9) from the foul line.
The Lady Lancers return home on Saturday, welcoming league-leading No. 7 Marian for a 1 p.m. tipoff.