Pictured is Bekah Marshall finishing a tough basket during Grace's 30-point upset of Pikeville in their NAIA debut
Pictured is Bekah Marshall finishing a tough basket during Grace's 30-point upset of Pikeville in their NAIA debut
RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Grace’s women’s basketball team played the Cinderella role to perfection in its NAIA National Championship debut.

The Lady Lancers, seeded No. 12 in its first NAIA tournament in team history, drubbed fifth-seeded Pikeville 83-53 on Tuesday.

Grace (22-9) used its signature style of aggressive defense and fast-paced offense to punish the Bears (21-9), leading to the 30-point rout in the NAIA First Round (hosted by Rio Grande University).

The win moves the Lady Lancers into the NAIA Second Round – making history yet again for Grace. They took on the host Rio Grande (a No. 4 seed in the tournament) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Details in tomorrow’s paper

The winner of Grace/Rio Grande will head to Sioux City, Iowa, for the remainder of the NAIA tournament.

“When it's the first for something there is always a lot of joy,” Grace head coach Dan Davis said when asked about winning Grace’s first ever NAIA tournament game. “These ladies have worked so hard through last summer and now into this season, it's great to get to experience this with them.”

The 12th seeded Lady Lancers will now advance to the second round where they will face host, the Rio Grande Red Storm.

On a night filled with memorable firsts for the Lady Lancers, Grace also had a few individual milestones to celebrate as well.

Feldman recorded her 1,000th point as a Lady Lancer and coach Dan Davis recorded his 250th career win (93 wins at Grace).

Both teams found early success with their interior offense as they traded buckets in the paint.

The Bears got the better of the early exchange and held an 11-5 advantage at the midpoint of the quarter.

Feldman scored with a physical inside move to end Pikeville’s run and open the floodgates for Grace.

After Kiersten Findley tied the game up with a pull-up shot in the paint, Kaylee Patton edged the Lady Lancers ahead 13-11.

Grace ended the quarter on an 11-0 and took a 16-11 lead into the second frame.

Feldman started the second quarter by knocking down a pair of free throws as the Lady Lancers continued to roll.

Even a seemingly broken possession couldn’t slow Grace as Kaylee Patton nailed a trifecta just before the shot clock buzzer.

Feldman and Kate Rulli asserted their will in the paint before Pikeville finally ended the Lady Lancer run with an old-fashioned 3-point play.

From 5:15 of the first quarter to 4:56 of the second quarter, the Lady Lancers went on a 24-0 run to explode out to a 29-11 lead.

Even after finding their offensive flow again, Pikeville couldn’t slow Grace’s offense as the Lady Lancers lead reached as many as 24 points.

The Bears hit a late shot in the first half, but still trailed Grace 41-19 at the first half.

Feldman had 12 points in the first as Grace shot 47 percent from the field as a team. Pikeville was held to just 23 percent from the floor.

The Bears showed poised in the third quarter as they began to chip away at the monumental deficit.

Pikeville was aided by 11 Grace turnovers as the Bears were able to pull within 15 points on three occasions. However, each time the Lady Lancers answered on their offensive end to stymie the comeback attempt.

The Lady Lancers put the game on ice early in the fourth quarter, as they started the final frame on a 15-1 run to extend the lead to 72-41 by the midpoint of the quarter.

All 11 players saw playing time in the fourth quarter as Grace coasted to the 83-53 win.

Feldman ended the game with another double, pouring in 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Findley was tied for team high honors with 16 points of her own.

Kaylee Patton scored 14 points and nabbed eight rebounds. Rulli was a valuable asset off the bench with nine points and eight rebounds.

Grace finished the game shooting 53 percent from the floor compared to Pikeville’s 30 percent.

Grace held a dominant 48-22 point advantage in the paint.

“We know that Pike is a pretty good team, but we played pretty good tonight,” Davis added. “Looking forward to playing in front of a packed house tomorrow against Rio.”