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The Lakeland College women's basketball team improved to 2-1 overall with a non-conference victory over Elmhurst College, 71-66, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Elmhurst, Ill.
Although the Muskies saw a 10 point lead cut to five with a little over nine minutes left in the game after leading 40-28 at halftime, the squad fought through the Blue Jay's scrappy defense and aggressive half court trap to hang on for the win.
"They dealt with the half court trap spectacularly," said head coach April Arvan. " I didn't help them out very much because I didn't want to waste a time out after I had already taken a few, so they kind of had to suffer through that on their own. With that in mind, they did very well."
Despite foul trouble in the first half, senior forward Jenna Boehm was a force to be reckoned with in the paint, sinking 60 percent of her shots for 21 points in only 17 minutes.
Those points came in handy as the Muskies' lead disappeared in the waning minutes of the game, with Elmhurst knotting up the score at 66 on a three-point play with under two minutes remaining in the second half. However, an offensive rebound and stick-back by Boehm and made free throws by freshman guard Brittanie Paulus with 17 seconds left combined with hard-nosed defense put the game out of reach.
"I thought we played really, really hard," Arvan said. "I think we lost our offensive intensity in the second half, but the ball happened to bounce our way. We didn't nail our free throws like I would have liked us to, but we built enough of a cushion to survive playing on the road.
"It's tough to win a close game on the road. Fortunately we knocked down a couple free throws at the end, which helped us get our lead back, and we grabbed a couple boards."
After nailing 14 of 16 shots from the line in the first half, the Muskies slipped to a 60 percent free throw average as a team in the second half, despite Boehm's nearly perfect nine-of-10 effort for the game.
Senior forward Danielle Duranceau also provided Lakeland with a major lift, leading the way on the boards with 12 in addition to eight points, while freshman forward Emily Agner came off the bench to grab seven boards and net six points.
However, Arvan credits the efforts of junior guard Allison Komaromy as playing a major role in the game's positive outcome for the Muskies.
"Allison Komaromy coming off the bench in the first half, nailing a couple threes and handling the show was key," Arvan said. "My philosophy is that the bench has to come and produce better than the starters, and Allison proved that philosophy very well today."
Komaromy knocked down both of her attempts from beyond the arc to finish with six points, two rebounds and one assist in six minutes of court time.
Three other Muskies also finished high in the scoring column, as freshman guards KC Blahnik and Paulus each tallied eight points apiece, while senior guard Amanda Thielmann also notched eight points.
Although Elmhurst's combined team field goal percentage was slightly higher than Lakeland's, 38 percent to 37.5 percent, the Muskies out-rebounded the Blue Jays 48 to 33.
Lakeland's next game will be a home match against a tough Carroll College squad on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
"It's nice to be above .500 heading into Thanksgiving so we can enjoy the break a little bit coming off a win," Arvan said. "However, Carroll College is an excellent team and they return pretty much everybody on their roster off a very successful year, which of course we don't.
"Hopefully playing at home will help a little bit. The fact that Elmhurst is a quality program will hopefully help us against Carroll because we didn't prove the type of team we could be in the Tip-Off Tournament."
Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Lakeland's Moose and Dona Woltzen Gymnasium.