Grace Prevails Past Taylor, Advances to Semifinals

Vironnica Drake pushing the ball up the floor in the first half during Tuesday's game.

Vironnica Drake pushing the ball up the floor in the first half during Tuesday’s game.

A dominant third quarter lifted Grace’s women’s basketball team to a 66-58 win over Taylor on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League Tournament.

Vironnica Drake poured in a career-high 23 points to go along with 12 rebounds in a sparkling performance. She was a key figure during Grace’s game-changing third quarter.

The Lady Lancers (15-16) advance to the tournament semifinals and will travel to top-seeded Marian on Friday at 7 p.m.

Grace controlled much of the first half thanks to its muscle on the defensive end and effort on the glass. The Lady Lancers outrebounded Taylor by 11 before halftime, thanks in large part to six offensive boards.

The first quarter started slowly as the sides traded baskets. Taylor ended the quarter with three straight points, but a late hoop from Haley Richardson cut the gap to 12-11.

Chloe Pridgen sparked Grace to start the second quarter with four quick points. The Lady Lancers’ fast-paced attack put Taylor on its heels and lifted Grace to a 19-14 edge, forcing Taylor to burn a timeout.

Grace maintained a slight lead and went into halftime ahead 25-24.

The third quarter belonged to Grace. Drake started the quarter with a 3-pointer, which was a sign of things to come. Drake buried a trio of 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the quarter and provided a steady source of offense.

Pridgen and Richardson propelled the Lady Lancers to a 9-0 run to open up an eight-point lead. 

On the final possession of the quarter, Drake pulled up for a 3-pointer at the top of the key. She drilled her fourth trey of the quarter to beat the buzzer and give Grace a 50-39 lead. Drake’s 12 points nearly outscored Taylor’s 15 combined points in the period.

The Trojans (13-18) still faced a 15-point deficit with 2:15 remaining in the game before producing a valiant comeback. Taylor managed to trim Grace’s cushion down to seven with 31 seconds remaining, but the Lady Lancers made enough free throws to ice the quarterfinal win.

Drake’s 23 points came on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Her 12 rebounds were also a career-best mark.

Pridgen had another double-double for Grace, tallying 14 points, 11 boards and 2 blocks in 21 minutes. Richardson was the third Grace player in double figures with 15 points.

Darian Patton finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, and Kelsie Peterson added 2 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Grace only shot 39 percent from the floor as a team, but they held Taylor to 32 percent. The Lady Lancers also held a dominant plus-18 advantage in rebounds.

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