Grace rolls into NCCAA Semifinals
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace college’s women’s basketball team has earned a spot in the NCCAA semifinals for the third time in program history.
The Lady Lancers (23-10) semifinal berth was earned after a convincing 75-49 victory over sixth seeded Houghton on Wednesday evening. Grace will take on the College of the Ozarks on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
The Lady Lancers were propelled to victory by a dominant performance from Karlee Feldman. The Highlanders (17-10) had no answer for Grace’s dominant post, as Feldman poured in 24 points, while also collecting 13 rebounds.
Feldman gave an early glimpse of the signature performance that she was about to display, scoring just seconds after the opening tip.
Grace’s first eight points were scored by four different players as Grace demonstrated a well balanced attack early.
Four minutes into the quarter, the Lady Lancers held a 14-10 lead, but Houghton caught fire from the field and ended the quarter on a 12-4 run.
The Highlanders shot at a 69 percent clip in the first quarter to take a 22-18 lead into the second frame.
An early Houghton free throw pushed the Highlanders’ lead to 5 points. Grace quickly erased the deficit amidst a 17-2 run.
Feldman got the offense explosion started with back-to-back layups. Grace would recapture the lead after Kiersten Findley and Maddie Ryman connected on a fastbreak score.
Another inside score from Feldman pushed the Lady Lancers advantage to 10 points, before Houghton finally broke the seal on their basket.
Grace’s defense fueled a pair of buckets late. Kaylee Patton and Kate Rulli both picked up key steals to send the Lady lancers into the half with a 41-29 advantage.
The Highlanders continued to struggle containing Feldman as she helped propel Grace’s lead to 19-points just three-minutes into the second half.
The Lady Lancers defense held Houghton to just 36 percent shooting in the third quarter as they took a 55-42 lead into the final quarter.
Grace left little doubt in the fourth stanza, building their lead to as many as 30 points.
All 11 players saw action, as the Lady Lancers scored 20 points in the final 10 minutes to put the finishing touches on the 75-49 victory.
“This was a great way to get out of the gate,” said Grace head coach Dan Davis. “I thought we settled down after the first and played really well on both ends of the floor. We made some changes defensively that helped us settle into our rhythm. There is the obvious pressure of playing in a national tournament, but I think our ladies have even a little more pressure because we are playing on our home floor. They know how much winning this national championship would mean to this school, and this was a great first step in that process.”
Grace finished the game shooting 46 percent from the floor and held a 40-24 advantage in the paint.
Along with her aforementioned double-double, Feldman also chipped in a block and a pair of steals. Ryman with 19 points and Peyton Murphy added 14 points off own.