FORT WAYNE – In a classic Crossroads League women’s basketball battle, Grace came up just short in their upset bid at No. 9 Saint Francis on Saturday.
The Lady Lancers (13-7; 4-4 CL), despite committing a season-worst 26 turnovers, missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to fall 63-60.
Juaneice Jackson, who gave the Cougars (18-2; 7-1 CL) fits all night with 26 points, handed Grace its largest lead of the game at 25-18 with a 3-pointer midway into the first half. She made all three of her attempts from beyond the arc in the first half and was 4-of-5 on 3’s overall.
Saint Francis turned up their offense late in the half, however, using a quick 8-1 run to fuel their 36-29 halftime advantage.
The Cougars maintained a small lead throughout the second half, holding a cushion of no larger than nine points but as small as one.
Grace refused to back down from the ninth-ranked Cougars, slicing the gap to one at 57-56 on a trey from Jackson with 3:35 to play.
After a defensive stop on one end of the floor, Grace lost the ball and allowed Saint Francis to score to regain a three-point lead.
This time, Emily Bidwell scored to pull the Lady Lancers within one with 57 seconds remaining. Grace looked to pull off the upset with a steal, but they quickly turned the ball over again and sent the Cougars to the free throw line.
Saint Francis made 3-of-4 from the foul line over their next two possessions to go ahead by four, but Allison Kauffman brought the Lady Lancers to within two with a quick basket.
After a foul with four seconds remaining, Grace sent Saint Francis to the line. The Cougars made the first shot and missed the second.
Kauffman snagged the rebound, raced up the court and got off a 25-foot 3-pointer as time expired, but her potential game-tying shot hit the front of the rim as the Cougars survived the threat of overtime.
Overall, Grace held a plus-16 advantage in rebounding. Saint Francis attempted 10 more free throws than Grace (24-14) and also committed 12 fewer turnovers.
Kauffman finished with 15 points and nine boards, and Bidwell and Lindsey Schaefer netted six points apiece.
The Lady Lancers continue league play on Wednesday at Marian before hosting Mount Vernon Nazarene on Saturday.