FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - In a back-and-forth Crossroads League matchup, Grace’s women’s basketball team came up short 65-59 at St. Francis on Wednesday.
The Lady Lancers erased a double-digit lead in the second half, but the Cougars made a charge late to secure the league victory.
The game started slowly for Grace’s offense. The Lady Lancers (2-2, 0-2 CL) did not make a field goal for the first few minutes until Kiersten Poor made a steal and scored a layup.
The Cougars (7-2, 1-0 CL) were also sluggish, struggling to handle Grace’s defensive pressure.
Kyannah Stull helped spark Grace’s attack, converting a crafty layup and then burying a deep triple as Grace led 10-4.
Grace did not score for the final few minutes but still led 10-8 at the end of the first quarter.
The Cougars quickly reasserted themselves to start the second quarter. USF tallied six quick points to grab a 14-10 lead.
Grace eventually knotted the score at 23-23 after a layup from Maddie Ryman. But USF ended the half on an 11-5 spurt to lead 34-28 at halftime.
Stull scored 11 points with a trio of 3-pointers in the first half, helping keep Grace in striking distance.
For the half, Grace shot 40 percent from the floor compared to 56 percent for USF.
The Cougars scored the first four points of the second half to open up a 10-point lead. But Grace was just getting warmed up.
Kamryn Hostetler jumpstarted the Lady Lancers, burying a pair of quick 3-pointers to eat into the Cougars’ lead.
Grace’s defense gave the Cougars fits in the third quarter. After a backcourt steal, Hostetler made an open layup to put Grace ahead 41-40.
Ryman and Kate Rulli kept momentum on Grace’s side with back-to-back scores; the Lady Lancers went on top by five to force a USF timeout.
After the timeout, the Cougars nailed a 3-pointer which ended a 17-2 onslaught from Grace.
Grace maintained the lead and entered the fourth quarter ahead 49-47.
The Lady Lancers found their scoring from beyond the arc to start the final quarter. Ryman buried a deep 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, and Kaylie Warble also hit a corner triple (the second of her career).
The teams continued to battle close as the clock wound down. With four minutes to play, Hostetler drained a trey from the top of the key to lift Grace to a five-point lead at 59-54.
But the Lady Lancers went cold down the stretch. Grace was unable to score again over the final 3:47 despite getting quality shots.
USF scored seven unanswered points to regain the lead with 40 seconds remaining.
Grace came up short on a potential game-tying jumper, and the Cougars made two free throws to ice the win with 17 seconds to play. USF added two more foul shots in the dying seconds, helping the Cougars end the contest on an 11-0 run.
“This was a big improvement from our last game. We have to keep getting better, but I’m not disappointed in our team at all tonight,” said Grace head coach Dan Davis. “We came to win and came to fight, and we got beat by a really good team. We are in the early moments of our season, so I’m excited to see how we grow.”
Stull and Hostetler tied for scoring honors with 15 points. Hostetler added five assists and six steals, and Stull had 4 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Ryman scored 12 points with three steals, and Warble tallied seven points and five boards.
Kenzie McMahon tallied 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, and Kaylee Patton had two assists off the bench.