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The Lakeland College women's basketball team held off a last minute run by Maranatha, knocking off the Crusaders 54-47 Thursday night in a Northern Athletics Conference contest at Moose & Dona Woltzen Gymnasium.
Leading by 13, the Muskies failed to make a field goal in the final 6:18 of the second half. A Maranatha basket with 4:27 remaining dropped the Muskie lead under 10 for the first time since the midpoint of the first half. Maranatha continued its point streak, scoring nine straight points in cutting the Lakeland advantage to four. Mary Dennewitz (Chicago, Ill.), Lakeland's leading free throw shooter on the season (.784), converted on her two chances at the foul line with two minutes on the clock to put Lakeland up six. Up five with 28 seconds remaining, Kasey Gussert (Kingsford, Mich.) sunk both of her chances from the charity stripe in scoring the final points of the contest.
The Muskies struggled to find shots in the second half, shooting 18 times and converting on eight. Compounding problems, Lakeland shot only 10-15 from the free throw line on the night, including four-straight failed attempts in the Maranatha comeback attempt.
"We had a couple times where we had two turnovers in a row, or three possessions where we didn't hit a basket", Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson said. "We need to limit our dry spells, and we have to connect at the line. Shooting 66 percent in any game is not good enough.
"When you give up 12 turnovers in one half, you're going to limit the number of shots you attempt. We did not do a very good job of rebounding and taking care of the ball which is why we had so many instances of not being able to score."
Lakeland (15-5, 10-3) found its offense quickly in the first half, jumping out to a fast eight point lead after the first 4:30 of the game. Leading by four, the Muskies went on an 11-point run, taking a 24-9 lead with 7:38 remaining in the half. Both teams traded baskets in the remainder of the half as Lakeland took a 31-19 lead into halftime.
KC Blahnik led Muskie scorers with nine points as Lakeland failed to have a double-digit scorer for the second time this season, both coming against Maranatha. Ten Muskies scored at least two points in the victory as Gussert recorded eight points and Becca Tilleman (Green Bay), Autumn Gaylor (Ingleside, Ill.), Dennewitz, and Katie Kilton (Waukesha) all tallied six points on the evening.
Rose Peterson scored 17 for the Crusaders, including 12 in the second half, on 7-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession as the two combined for 45 turnovers. Lakeland's 22 turnovers tied a season-high for most committed in a victory.
The Muskies hit the road Saturday, traveling to River Forest, Ill. for a meeting with Dominican as part of a men's/women's double header. Tip-off for the women's game is 2 p.m.