Junior Vironnica Drake of Grace lofts her shot to the basket while driving down the lane during the first half. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Junior Vironnica Drake of Grace lofts her shot to the basket while driving down the lane during the first half. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
WINONA LAKE – The Grace College women’s basketball team scored the first six points of its game on Wednesday night and never relented.

The Lady Lancers (17-15) opened up the NCCAA National Championships in style with an 88-52 waltz over Bluefield College at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

The win secures Grace’s spot in the national semifinals for just the second time in program history. The Lady Lancers will play in the semifinals today at 8:45 p.m. against defending NCCAA champion Mid-America Christian.

Grace’s first half was a steady diet of defensive pressure and offensive execution. The Rams struggled to handle Grace’s defense and coughed the ball up 12 times in the half.

The two Brookes helped Grace end the first quarter with momentum. Brooke Sugg hit a three-pointer to put the Lady Lancers ahead by eight.

Then Brooke Treadway took care of the rest, ending the quarter with six unanswered points as Grace led 19-7.

On the first play of the second quarter, Kyannah Stull sliced into the lane and converted an and-1.

Bluefield never countered and faced a daunting 43-18 deficit at halftime. Stull led all players with 10 points in the first 20 minutes, and Grace outscored Bluefield 22-8 in the paint.

The Rams (16-17) did their best to rally and managed to trim Grace’s cushion down to 46-28 in the third quarter.

But the Lady Lancers responded with a 15-3 run to take control of the game for good. Grace enjoyed an explosion of three-pointers from its bench during that run, including two treys by both Lexi Minix and Lauren Godfrey and another from Brielle Wilson.

Grace utilized its bench liberally in the second half and managed to put 11 players in the scoring column. For the game, Grace got 36 points from its bench compared to 14 from Bluefield’s substitutes.

The Lady Lancers also scored 19 points off 20 Bluefield turnovers, and Grace grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.

Stull’s 15 points were a game high, and Treadway added 12 points, five boards and three steals.

Kaylie Warble almost had a double-double with 10 points and seven rebounds, and Vironnica Drake scored 10 points.

Godfrey and Sugg both scored eight points in the win, Minix had six points with two assists, Wilson tallied five points and three assists, and Rachel Montgomery produced four points and three rebounds.

The Lady Lancers are hoping to reach the national championship game for the first time in program history.

Danae Cox led Bluefield with 12 points, while Haley Turman chipped in with 11 points.

In other first-round women’s games Wednesday, third-seeded Roberts Wesleyan beat No. 6 seed Hiwassee 76-54, No. 2 seed Brewton-Parker edged No. 7 Judson 75-72 and No. 1 seed Mid-America Christian beat No. 8 Yellowstone Christian 92-66.