Lady Lancers Nearly Topple Top-seeded Lee at NCCAA Nationals

Grace’s women’s basketball team gave top-seeded Lee (Tenn.) all it could handle on Wednesday night in the opening round of the NCCAA National Championships. But Lee staved off the upset of the tournament with a 66-58 victory at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Juaneice Jackson led all players with 27 points, including four 3-pointers, and Allison Kauffman added 20 points and eight boards. However, Grace struggled to find offensive production beyond Jackson and Kauffman as Chloe Pridgen was the next highest scorer with four points.

The Lady Lancers (17-16) played suffocating defense in the opening period, limiting the high-scoring Lady Flames (24-5) to 27-percent shooting and 29 points.

Grace, on the other hand, excelled with its shooting touch. The Lady Lancers hit a sizzling 56 percent from the floor. The team’s ball handling was less refined as Grace struggled to 13 first-half turnovers.

Juaneice Jackson drilled a pair of 3-pointers and slashed her way to 12 points in the opening period, and Allison Kauffman scored nine. Only one other player for Grace had more than two points (Kelsey Sule, 3).

Grace trailed 29-28 at the halftime break. Lindsey Schaefer scored the first points of the second half to lift the Lady Lancers ahead by one. But Lee’s Hollie German scored back-to-back hoops to put the Lady Flames ahead for good.

Lee held a slight cushion over the home team for the rest of the half, but Grace refused to fade in front of a rowdy MOCC fan base. Jackson’s basket with 4:59 on the clock cut the Lady Lancers’ deficit to three points at 51-48. But Grace lost much of its momentum down the stretch as three offensive fouls were whistled against the Lady Lancers in a five-minute span. Lee was able to ice the win with seven free throws in the final2:18.

After shooting 56 percent in the first half, Grace’s shooting dramatically shrank to 28 percent after halftime. The Lady Flames also benefitted with 24 points off of Grace’s 22 turnovers.

The Lady Lancers will continue tournament action in the consolation bracket against No. 4 seed Oklahoma Christian tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

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