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MILWAUKEE - The Lakeland College women's basketball team survived a late Alverno charge to defeat the Inferno 63-54 Saturday afternoon in a tightly contested Northern Athletics Conference showdown.
Ahead by one late in the second half, freshman center Autumn Gaylor (Ingleside, Ill.) helped Lakeland maintain possession of the lead by scoring seven straight points for the Muskies. Lakeland (10-3, 5-1 NAC) outscored Alverno 10-2 in the final 2:49 of the half to pull away with the victory.
"Autumn played outstanding for us today," Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson said. "She was tremendous on both sides of the court."
The Muskies took the first decisive advantage of the first half, springing ahead to a 23-10 lead nine minutes into play. Lakeland was unable to maintain the gap as Alverno slowly erased the Muskie lead in the remainder of the half, taking a short three point lead of its own before Lakeland scored the final four points of the half to enter halftime with a 32-31 lead.
"We didn't play very aggressively in the first half," said Johnson. "We got complacent and Alverno capitalized on our mistakes. In the second half we played better defense and took advantage of our position in the paint. Those two things helped us take the lead and pull away towards the end.
Neither team was able to pull too far ahead in the second half as Lakeland quickly stretched the lead to five. Lakeland would twice more take the lead up to five before Alverno took its only lead of the second half with 6:48 remaining. A basket by Becca Tilleman (Green Bay) at 4:38 gave the Muskies the lead back as Lakeland would not trail the rest of the game.
Gaylor had an outstanding day for the Muskies, finishing with 24 points and going a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. KC Blahnik (Gladstone, Mich.) contributed 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds in the winning effort.
Lakeland as a team shot 45 percent from the field on 22-of-49 shooting. Its 89.5 percent (17-of-19) effort from the free-throw line was a team-high for the season.
Bre Miller led Alverno (4-7, 1-5 NAC) with 16 points. The Inferno were held to 34 percent shooting in the second half and shot only 20 percent from the 3-point line on the day.
The Muskies continue NAC play Tuesday at Concordia Wisconsin. The showdown between the top two teams in the North division tips off at 7 p.m.