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The Lakeland College women's basketball team was unable to sustain a quick opening run, falling in its opening game in the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament to Aurora 76-69 Tuesday night in Aurora, Ill.
The Muskies, who finish the 2008-09 season with a record of 17-9 (12-6) and seeded fifth in the tournament, hit two 3-pointers and two free throws in their first three possessions of the game, jumping out to an early 8-0 advantage over the number four seed Spartans.
Lakeland took its largest lead of the night seven minutes in, scoring five straight to take a 15-5 lead.
Aurora used a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to erase the Muskie lead, tying the game at 17. Neither team took a lead larger than three points in the remainder of the half as Lakeland broke the fifth tie of the half, hitting a free throw to enter halftime with a 30-29 lead.
Lakeland was able to keep Aurora from breaking away in the first 10 minutes of the second half as Aurora could not pull away by more than five points.
Lakeland tied the contest once again at 47 with 9:50 remaining in the game, but was unable to hold off the Spartan offense as Aurora pushed the lead up slowly to ten before finalizing its seven-point victory.
"This was a disappointing way to end our season," said Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson. "We shot well in the first half and came out of halftime cold."
Both teams struggled to hold on to the basketball as the teams combined for 43 turnovers. Lakeland committed 23 of its own, the seventh time this season they have turned over possession at least 20 times.
Autumn Gaylor (Ingleside, Ill.) led the Muskies on offense, scoring 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Chelsea Coenen (Wrightstown) and Kasey Gussert (Kingsford, Mich.) also scored in double figures for Lakeland, putting up 13 and 11 points, respectfully. KC Blahnik (Gladstone, Mich.) paced the Muskies on the boards, grabbing 11 rebounds on the night.
Lakeland shot 39 percent from the floor for the game, hitting 23-of-59 shot attempts.
Michelle Perry led all scorers on the night with 22 points as Aurora shot 47 percent as a team.
The Muskies held a slight 39-38 rebound advantage while both teams scored 17 points off of turnovers.