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Freshman Becca Tilleman (Green Bay) converted a mid-court steal into two points with 57 seconds remaining, giving Lakeland the lead for the final time as the Muskies held off Maranatha in a 46-40 Northern Athletics Conference victory Thursday night in Watertown, Wis.
The Crusaders erased a 12-point second half Lakeland advantage, tying the game with six minutes remaining and taking their first lead since the opening minutes at the 1:30 mark. After field goals on the next two Lakeland possessions to take back the lead, Mary Dennewitz(Chicago, Ill.) and Becca Paulson(Clayton) sunk six consecutive free throws to seal the win. Lakeland struggled from the free throw line on the night, completing only 13-of-24.
"We came out flat and struggled to take good shots," Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson said. "We let them play better basketball than us, and at halftime we focused on having to play with more intensity."
Lakeland (4-2, 2-0 NAC) took a 23-16 lead into halftime as the Crusaders struggled to adjust to the fast pace.
The Muskies found themselves in early foul trouble to begin the second half, putting Maranatha (3-1, 0-1 NAC) in the bonus with 13:00 remaining. The Crusaders made 10-of-12 from the line in the second half on their way to erasing the Lakeland margin.
Chelsea Coenen (Wrightstown) led the Muskies with nine points and nine rebounds, including five offensive boards. KC Blahnik (Gladstone, Mich.) added nine rebounds of her own to go with her eight points and team-high four steals.
The Muskies struggled to find their shooting touch on the night, hitting 24 percent from the floor and connecting on 18 percent of their 3-pointers.
"We made things harder than they should have been," said Johnson. "Missing free throws, not taking care of the ball, and failing to capitalize on Maranatha's mistakes all hurt us. All credit goes to Maranatha because they played extremely hard with tremendous intensity for 40 minutes."
Amanda Moses paced the Crusader offense with 21 points. Rose Peterson grabbed 16 rebounds as Maranatha was held to 28 percent shooting and failed to make a 3-pointer in six attempts.
Lakeland returns to NAC action Saturday in the early game of a men's/women's doubleheader against Benedictine. Action begins in Lisle, Ill. at 2 p.m.