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Lady Lancers stumble in second half

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s women’s basketball team came up short in the regular-season finale on Saturday.

Despite holding the lead at the half, the Lady Lancers could not overcome a second-half outburst from Mt. Vernon Nazarene, suffering an 87-79 defeat.

The Lady Lancers (18-12, 9-9 Crossroads League) finish the regular season fifth in the conference, securing their spot in the Crossroads League Tournament.

Grace will play on the road in the quarterfinal matchup with No. 17 Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday night.

Kyannah Stull had a monster game, putting up a career-high 29 points while hitting nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc (6-14).

The game started slowly, with each team looking to find some rhythm.

The Cougars (18-12, 8-10 CL) found their rhythm first, producing a 13-0 run that created a 10-point deficit for the Lancers with just two minutes left in the quarter.

Sparked by a triple from Stull, the Lady Lancer offense churned out nine points in the final two minutes. When the first quarter drew to a close, Grace trailed 20-17.

The second quarter brought more lead changes. Grace quickly closed the gap with four free throws and a bucket from Maddie Ryman to tie the score at 23.

Stiff defensive pressure produced offense for Grace. An alert steal from Stull led to a fast break layup for Ryman.

Stull and Ryman connected from downtown on each of the next two possessions to take the lead once more.

The Lady Lancers would maintain the lead for the rest of the half, thanks to baskets from Micaela Box, Brooke Treadway, Vironnica Drake and Kamryn Hostetler.

The scoreboard read 41-35 in favor of Grace as the teams headed into the locker room.

Stull led all players with 12 points at the half, shooting 5-of-10 from the floor. Treadway grabbed seven boards in the first half.

The Lady Lancers shot 40 percent from the floor and 33 percent from downtown in the first half, right in step with the numbers for the Cougars.

MVNU came out of the locker room with intensity, scoring 11 unanswered points.

Grace’s first points of the second half came at the 7:29 mark, as Box drained a shot from downtown.

The game remained tight as the Lady Lancers found a bit of offensive rhythm.

Stull knocked down a 3-pointer, and Treadway converted down low to give Grace a slim 51-50 lead.

The Cougars responded on the next possession, taking the lead for good. MVNU cruised through the rest of the quarter, carrying a 64-56 lead into the final stanza.

The fourth quarter started with a bang, as the teams traded 3-pointers early. Lexi Minix and Stull each nailed treys to keep pace with the Cougar offense.

The lead stretched to double digits for MVNU, but Stull responded by burying another 3-pointer to cut the deficit to eight.

The Cougars maintained a healthy lead for most of the quarter, until Drake knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five with two minutes remaining.

However, it was too little and too late. MVNU knocked down their free throws and forced some empty possessions from Grace down the stretch.

Stull converted two free throws with 40 seconds left, which would be the final points for the Lady Lancers as the Cougars cruised to an 87-79 victory.

The Cougars, who shot 38 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, were on fire after halftime. MVNU shot 62 percent from deep in the second half (8-13).

Treadway neared a double-double with 11 rebounds, 8 points, 2 steals and 1 block. Drake scored 17 points on 9-of-10 from the free throw line, adding seven rebounds.

Minix stuffed the stat sheet with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, and Ryman scored 11 points off the bench for the Lady Lancers.

Saturday was also Senior Day with the five graduating players (Drake, Minix, Treadway, Box, Rachel Montgomery) in the starting lineup.

The Lady Lancers will travel to No. 17 IWU for a Tuesday night quarterfinal matchup, kicking off the Crossroads League Tournament.