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The Lakeland College women's basketball team picked up a big Northern Athletics Conference victory, 56-49, at Aurora on Thursday, Jan. 25 to put both teams at 7-4 for fourth place tie in the NAC rankings.
Although both teams shot in the low 30 percent range in the first half, senior forward Danielle Duranceau was on fire from 3-point range, draining three in the first half to help put the Muskies just behind the Spartans, 24-21, at half.
In the second half, Lakeland got their offense going enough to spring into the lead for the first time at the 10:11 mark on a pair of Duranceau free throws. The made shots sparked an 11-3 run by the Muskies, including made 3-pointers by junior guard Brenda Paulson and freshman guard Megan Chart, to put the squad up, 44-36, with just under eight minutes remaining in the game.
Lakeland would never trail again in the game, finishing with five made 3-pointers in the half to close the half with a 50 percent average from behind the arc. The Muskies also forced the Spartans into committing 21 turnovers and held them to one for 16 from 3-point range and 32 percent from the floor for the game.
Duranceau finished the game with four 3-point baskets out of five attempts and was eight for 13 from the floor a game-high and career-high 22 points.
"I knew they would be doubling Jenna Boehm on the inside so I would have open looks, and the coaches told me to take the open shot," Duranceau said. "Once the first few fell, it gave me the confidence to keep shooting. I knew that if we weren't going to be able to get it in to Boehm, then other people were going to have to step up and score."
As Boehm was double-teamed on the inside for most of the game, she may have seen fewer touches than normal but still managed a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Paulson also scored in double-figures with 11 points, including three made shots from 3-point land, while freshman guard KC Blahnik had six points and dished out four assists.
Head coach April Arvan was pleased with her team's effort against Aurora, as it marks a positive shift for the Muskies since Tuesday's disappointing 64-50 NAC loss to Edgewood.
"Coming from how we played on Tuesday to seeing progress tonight, we definitely have a lot to build on," Arvan said. "Since we didn't perform up to our expectations on Tuesday, we needed to beat somebody that was in the top tier of the conference. Our players did a really good job letting Tuesday go and responded well to get the win tonight.
"Danielle knocking down 3's was huge. That's 12 points right there that we're not used to getting. The game she had today offensively was just huge. Boehm did the stuff she normally does for us, and Brenda knocked down some shots in the second half that were key. They collapsed on Boehm, so it was nice to see that she had others to support her."
Duranceau echoed Arvan's sentiments and also saw the win as a major confidence-builder for the squad.
"This win is huge after dropping the ball against Edgewood," Duranceau said. "Tonight gave us a little bit of momentum and kind of got us back in the driver's seat. We still need help from other teams to get ourselves in a good position for the NAC tournament, but this win definitely helps."
Lakeland will make their final road trip to Illinois of the regular season on Saturday, Jan. 27, with a NAC game at Dominican. Game time is set for 2 p.m. in River Forest, Ill.