Freshman Kelsie Peterson stepped up in the waning seconds, hitting a last-second layup for Grace’s women’s basketball team to knock off No. 19 Huntington 52-51 on Saturday.
Grace had the ball out of bounds with less than three seconds on the clock, trailing the Foresters (13-5, 4-4 Crossroads League) by one. Peterson was screened by Lindsey Schaefer, received a pass from Darian Patton and rose above a defender to score the game-winning shot with one second remaining. Peterson then deflected Huntington’s desperation pass at midcourt to seal the upset for the Lady Lancers (10-10, 3-5 CL).
“It was good to see the girls bounce back after a tough loss against Marian. We played not to lose against Marian, so we worked on a few things to make sure we were the aggressive team today,” said Grace head coach Scott Blum. “The girls executed down the stretch, ran the out-of-bounds play perfectly and got a wide-open layup.”
Allison Kauffman paced Grace offensively with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, adding a pair of 3-pointers and six rebounds.
Grace used tenacious defense and dominant rebounding to gain an edge on Huntington. The Lady Lancers turned the ball over 18 times compared to just seven for the Foresters, but Grace had a plus-15 advantage in rebounding for the game. The Foresters were also stifled into shooting 34 percent and scored 19 points below their season average (70.0 ppg).
The Foresters’ offensive woes began immediately. Huntington scored just four points over the first 10 minutes of play, allowing Grace to claim an early 12-4 lead. The Foresters countered with a 12-4 run of their own to tie the game at 16-16.
Grace held a slight lead for the rest of the half and led 28-25 at halftime.
A 3-pointer from Kauffman put Grace ahead 36-29 with 16:17 left in the game. But the Foresters came charging back. Huntington used a 13-2 spurt to go on top 47-42 with 5:54 remaining, but Kauffman responded with five straight points to knot the score.
The game teetered back and forth in the final minutes before Huntington went ahead 51-50 on a pair of free throws with 1:23on the clock. Each team came up empty on its next possession, setting the stage for the most memorable shot in Peterson’s young career.
Peterson finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, and Gabby Bryant tallied eight points and five boards. Schaefer scored six points with a game-high eight rebounds, and Heather House scored six points off the bench.
“This type of game gives us a lot of confidence. We have to work on cleaning up our turnovers and shorten up our passes, but we can beat anybody in the country when we stay focused. If we focus on playing together and playing for each other, good things will happen the rest of the year,” Blum said. “Any game you win in this conference in huge, so we’ll enjoy this one but then get back to work next week.”
The Lady Lancers just finished a run of three straight games against NAIA Top-25 ranked teams, going 2-1 in that stretch with an upset of No. 7 St. Francis and a six-point loss to No. 10 Marian. Grace will travel to Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday at 7 p.m.