Junior Maddie Ryman dribbles the ball up the floor during Grace’s NCCAA Tournament loss to Southwestern Christian
Junior Maddie Ryman dribbles the ball up the floor during Grace’s NCCAA Tournament loss to Southwestern Christian
WINONA LAKE – The Grace Lady Lancers basketball team’s hopes of cutting down the nets on their home floor were quickly put to rest Wednesday night, as the home team and No. 3 seed was upset in the opening round of the NCCAA Tournament by No. 6 seeded Southwestern Christian University 73-60.

It was an upset-filled day at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center. The No. 1 seed in both the men and women’s tournaments were eliminated before Grace took the court. The Lady Lancers were slow to get going in the first quarter, allowing the Eagles of Southwestern to start the game on a 7-0 run. Kenzie McMahon would finally get Grace on the board four and a half minutes into the game, and would go on to score the team’s first six points.

Leading scorer and Warsaw native Maddie Ryman would pick up where McMahon left off, and would score the next five for Grace. Normally a stout defensive team, the Lady Lancers struggled all night at preventing penetration into the lane, resulting in a plethora of easy Eagles looks at the basket. Southwestern junior Christina Jenkins was lethal in the first half, making all of her open looks that were a result of a collapsing defense. After Grace was able to cut the lead to two, Southwestern answered with its second 7-0 run of the quarter to take a 20-11 lead into the second.

The Lady Lancers continued to struggle in the following period. Ryman was the only player able to score for a good chunk of the period, scoring the first seven Grace points. She also turned the ball over quite a few times, leading to some easy transition points for the Eagles. Southwestern continued to grow its lead as the Lady Lancers continued to lack focus. On one possession, the team forgot the amount of free throws being taken, almost resulting in an easy steal. Smelling the upset, Southwestern pounced, and ballooned its lead to 16 going into the halftime break.

The Lady Lancers would give it their all in the second half, evidenced by junior center Karlee Feldman coming alive in the third. Held to just two points and one rebound in the first half, the walking double-double started demanding the ball more often, and converted on her looks in the paint. She’d score six in the quarter, and would use a big second half to finish with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Unfortunately for Grace, the team was unable to combine its newly found offense to intensity on the defensive end. The Lady Lancers were able to inch closer at times, but were unable to get within single digits. Southwestern senior Thamires Andrade killed Grace all night, and continued to do her thing in the third quarter. The Brazilian native scored a game-high 30 points.

Grace finally started to anchor down defensively in the fourth, causing turnovers and preventing easy looks, but it was too little too late at that point. The closest the Lady Lancers would get in the quarter was 10. Ryman and sophomore Kaylee Patton would finish the game with nice offensive bursts, but to no avail. Ryman finished with 21 points, Patton with eight.

Grace falls to 19-15 this season, and will play in the consolation bracket at 1:45 p.m. Thursday against the loser of Asbury and Columbia International.