Freshman Peyton Murphy drives towards the bucket during Grace’s 65-56 loss to College of the Ozarks Friday night
Freshman Peyton Murphy drives towards the bucket during Grace’s 65-56 loss to College of the Ozarks Friday night
WINONA LAKE – In the team’s final contest of the season, the Grace Lady Lancers battled hard for 40 minutes, but ultimately fell just short, losing 65-56 to the College of the Ozarks in the NCCAA tournament fifth place game Friday night.

After a blowout lose on Wednesday and a blowout win Thursday, the Lady Lancers found themselves locked in a back and forth affair that saw eleven ties and nine lead changes.

In the opening period, the play styles of the two squads couldn’t be more different. The Lady Lancers deferred to junior Karlee Feldman on almost every possession. The 6’2” center was Grace’s lone source of offense for a majority of the first quarter, as she scored the team’s first nine points.

For the Bobcats, all five starters had scored before a Grace player other than Feldman put the ball in the basket. The tournament’s number one seed used crisp passing to get open looks, and the team was hitting a majority of its contested jumpers. A tight first quarter saw the visitors from Missouri hold a two-point advantage going into the second quarter.

That’s were things really got kooky. Both teams went nuclear from the field, trading made buckets as if the two sides were at a swap meet. The lead changed hands six times in the second quarter alone. The Lady Lancers started to share the rock a little better, getting junior Maddie Ryman and sophomore Kiersten Poor involved. Both players would finish with eleven points. Grace was able to find some separation, taking a seven-point lead in the period. But the Bobcats would storm back to tie the game up before halftime.

The third quarter saw the teams trade leads a few more times, with neither side taking too big of a lead. After a great game on Tuesday, sophomore Kenzie McMahon found herself in foul trouble, limiting her third quarter action. Feldman continued a stellar night, grabbing every rebound that fell to her and getting a big block. But early in the fourth, she would pick up two quick fouls, getting her to four.

With time winding down and the game still up for grabs, the Lady Lancers put together their best defensive stretch of the game. With Ozarks leading 57-54, Grace strung together a string of stops that gave them every opportunity to take the game. But on the other end of the floor, the Lady Lancers couldn’t get their shots to fall. The score remained where it was for three minutes before the Bobcats pulled away for the final time. With just over a minute left in the game Feldman fouled out. She finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds.

The Lady Lancers finish the season with a 20-16 record and a sixth place finish at the NCCAA tournament.