No. 17 Wildcats bounce Grace from tourney

MARION, Ind. – Grace’s women’s basketball team suffered a 78-58 defeat to No. 17 Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday.

The Lady Lancers fell in the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League Tournament, ending their hopes of an NAIA tournament berth.

Grace will shift its focus to the NCCAA National Championships, hosted at Grace from March 18-21. The Lady Lancers may have a region game to play before the national tournament, depending on the postseason results from other regional teams.

Vironnica Drake produced a game-high 21 points with eight rebounds and four steals, but no other Lady Lancer was able to score more than eight.

As a team, Grace shot just 27 percent from the floor, including a 6-of-29 performance (21 percent) from the 3-point line.

Grace started the quarterfinal sharply, scoring the first five points of the game. Lexi Minix had a steal and fastbreak layup and later a 3-pointer to put the Lady Lancers ahead 8-3.

But the Wildcats (23-8) were deadly from deep, hitting a trio of 3-pointers to lead 9-8.

IWU lost the ball seven times in the first quarter from Grace’s defensive pressure. But the Lady Lancers (18-13) were unable to capitalize with a lead, settling for a 14-14 scoreline after one quarter.

Drake and Minix combined for 13 of Grace’s 14 points in the opening frame.

The No. 17 Wildcats began to flex their offensive muscle over the next two quarters. IWU scored 23 points apiece in the second and third quarters, and Grace was unable to keep pace.

Grace trailed 37-28 at halftime despite a late triple from Micaela Box.

Kyannah Stull started the third quarter with a basket, but Grace went cold after that hoop.

For the next 5:45, Grace scored just five more points. IWU took advantage with a 16-5 run, building its cushion up to 19.

Entering the final quarter, Grace faced a 15-point deficit. On a night where Grace struggled to find its shooting touch, the Lady Lancers were unable to generate a comeback.

Maddie Ryman and Drake tried to give Grace a boost with 3-pointers early in the fourth. But the Lady Lancers did not make a field goal for the final 4:08 of regulation; Grace missed its final eight field goal attempts of the contest.

Box scored eight points off the bench, and Ryman added 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

Kaylie Warble produced seven points and four boards, and Brooke Treadway added five points and six rebounds.

“This is not the way we wanted this tournament to end obviously. We came out well early and executed our game plan, but IWU had some girls who hit some big shots so credit to them. Offensively we just couldn’t hit our shots,” said Grace head coach Dan Davis. “It’s time to turn the page, take some time off and get our minds right. This team knows it has the capability to make a run and do something special. We’ve had a really solid year, but we aren’t finished yet.”