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SHEBOYGAN, WIS. - The Lakeland College women's basketball team fought its way to an exciting 66-61 overtime victory Wednesday night over Alverno in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Northern Athletics Conference Tournament.
Tied at 59-59, junior Mary Dennewitz (Chicago, Ill.) nailed a 3-pointer with 2:25 remaining in the extra session to give the Muskies the 15th and final lead change of tonight. Senior Chelsea Coenen (Wrightstown, Wis.) followed by draining a jumper with 18 seconds remaining to give Lakeland a four point lead, and senior KC Blahnik (Gladstone, Mich.) finalized the win with a pair of free throws and a steal as time expired as Lakeland won its fourth overtime contest of the season.
"Terra Hiben (Boyceville, Wis.) did a great job of rallying everyone after the second half, explaining that we have yet to lose this season in overtime, and that helped boost our confidence," Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson said.
Lakeland (20-6, 13-4) maintained possession of the lead in the second half before a 10 point Inferno rally beginning at the 10:49 mark that ended with a 3-pointer from Shataya McComb to give Alverno a two-point lead. Both teams rallied as the lead changed seven times in the final eight minutes of regulation. Kilton put Lakeland up 57-55 on a layup with 1:54 remaining, a lead that stood until Rachel Diedrich tied the contest with 22 seconds remaining. Lakeland had possession in the final seconds until Kelsey Kochanowski stole possession and was nearly successful on a mid-court desperation attempt as time expired.
"It took us a while to get into the flow of the game," Johnson said. "Our effort in overtime really showed how determined we were."
Despite shooting just 30 percent from the floor, the Muskies benefited from attempting 80 shots compared to the 42 taken by Alverno.
"Taking care of the ball in crucial situations tonight was very important," Johnson said. "Being able to get the ball in our hands and get off more shot attempts allowed us to stay confident throughout the game and kept us confident when it mattered."
Blahnik paced Lakeland with 15 points and 10 rebounds and contributed with five steals. Kilton and freshman Leah Eisner (Stevens Point, Wis.) added 13 and 11 points, respectively, while Dennewitz led the defensive effort with a game-high seven steals.
Gabby Allen converted 11-15 free throws to lead the Inferno with 22 points. Lisa Sorgi was the only other Alverno (13-13, 11-7) player to register double digits with 11 points as they shot 45 percent for the game but were 0-4 in overtime. Diedrich was a defensive force on the inside, racking up 13 blocks.
With the win, Lakeland advances to the semifinals of the NAC Conference Tournament and will travel to Wisconsin Lutheran on Friday, Feb. 26. The Warriors, #2 seed and winners of the NAC South, moved on with a 52-37 defeat of MSOE. Tip-off Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m.