WINONA LAKE – Grace College’s women’s basketball team almost completed a massive comeback in the second half, losing to St. Francis 64-62 on Wednesday.

The Lady Lancers (10-9, 4-3 Crossroads League) trailed by as many as 13 late in the third quarter but made a valiant rally. The Cougars (12-7, 4-3 CL) managed to avoid overtime, however, as Grace’s potential game-tying shot in the final seconds misfired.

Grace struggled with its shot by making 38 percent for the game compared to 47 percent for USF.

The first half was fast-paced, packed with back-and-forth action. The first quarter alone saw 43 points scored in the 10-minute session.

The Cougars jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter. USF buried a trio of three-pointers in the quarter to claim a 17-7 advantage.

Grace still trailed 21-10 but made a furious run to end the period. The Lady Lancers exploded on a 10-2 run over the final 2:50 thanks to four points by Brooke Sugg and a last-second jumper from Pam Miller.

The second quarter was much milder in comparison. Grace’s offense sputtered to the tune of seven points, three of which came from Brooke Treadway.

The Lady Lancers went into halftime behind 36-27. Grace shot 34 percent from the floor, including 13 percent on three-pointers (1 of 8). Grace also committed nine turnovers in the half.

USF started the second half as the better team and held a double-digit lead for much of the third quarter. With 1:38 to play in the third, the Cougars owned a 50-37 lead.

In the final minute of the third, however, Sugg brought Grace back. Sugg converted a tough and-1 and later beat the buzzer with a banked floater high off the glass. Her five quick points cut USF’s lead down to 51-42 entering the last stanza.

Sugg continued her hot shooting to start the fourth. She made another floater on the first possession. After a USF turnover, she buried a deep triple to cut the deficit down to four with nine minutes to play.

Three times over the final minute, Grace was within one possession of USF. But each time the Cougars had an answer.

With 2:26 remaining, Kyannah Stull buried a corner three-pointer to make the score 61-58. But the Cougars responded quickly with a basket on the next possession.

With less than a minute on the clock, freshman Brielle Wilson hit another 3-pointer in front of Grace’s bench to cut USF’s lead down to 64-62 to set up a nervy final two plays.

USF had a chance to ice the game but misfired on a three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining. Grace eyed a chance to send the game to overtime, but Sugg’s last-second floater was off the mark.

Sugg had a team-high 18 points to go along with three assists, and Drake added 10 points and four rebounds.

Wilson tallied 10 points, three rebounds and three assists, and Treadway had eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Warble and Stull each scored six.

Emma Applegate led USF with 26 points, while Lauren McBryar chipped in with 14 points.

The Lady Lancers will hit the road to end the week, playing at No. 8 Marian on Saturday at 1 p.m.