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The Lakeland College women's basketball team overcame a sluggish start to defeat Alverno College, 65-45, in Northern Athletics Conference action on Saturday, Feb. 9, in the midst of honoring the "Think Pink" initiative and celebrating senior day at Lakeland.
All three seniors lived up to the glory and put forth shining efforts in what will most likely be their last home contest, as the Muskies (12-10, 9-6 NAC) captured their fifth-straight NAC win. Brenda Paulson and Allison Komaromy each shot 50 percent from the floor to finish with nine and seven points, respectively, while Peggy Keiper nailed three 3-pointers for nine points.
"All three seniors had a great game today, and it was great to see them go out strong," said Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson. "It was a special day for us, and a day where we knew we needed to focus extra hard because of all the things that were going on. We wanted to make sure that we played well for our seniors, and getting that fifth win in a row was definitely huge for us to get a leg up in conference."
Although the Muskies enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout much of the second half, the game was a much different story in the opening minutes. After a basket by sophomore guard KC Blahnik put the Muskies ahead 7-4, the home squad went nearly nine minutes without a score, shooting an icy 0-11 until sophomore forward Emily Agner jump-started the stalled offense with a lay-up at the 5:51 mark.
Lakeland went ahead for good on another Agner lay-up to make the score 14-13, then lengthened the lead to 25-17 by halftime.
"We did a good job in the second half of adjusting and picking up our defensive pressure compared to the first half," said Johnson, whose team picked off 14 steals and forced the Inferno into 27 turnovers for the contest. "I think we kind of laid back a little bit in the first half and didn't play to our potential. We also cut our turnovers in the second half, which was crucial because we had 11 at halftime."
The Muskies also shot a much-improved 54 percent in the second half, up from 29 percent in the first half. That offensive recovery was due in part to the scoring antics of Blahnik, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
"KC Blahnik had an outstanding game," Johnson said. "Every single week she is playing really, really, good basketball. She rebounds well for us, gets to the line, gets her paint shots and hits outside shots that she wasn't taking at the beginning of the year."
Lakeland will conclude its regular-season NAC schedule on the road, beginning with Marian College on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
"It's hard to beat a team twice," Johnson said, as the Muskies soundly defeated the Sabres, 83-69, in their first meeting on Jan. 30. "I'm sure they took things away from our game with them last week and learned from them, and we need to do the same. It's a big game for both of us because they need that game to get into the conference tournament and we need that game to stay in the running."
Tip-off time with Marian is set for 7 p.m. in Fond du Lac, Wis.