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The Lakeland College women's basketball team (0-1) dropped its season opener to Milwaukee School of Engineering, 52-47, on the first night of play in their annual "Play with Grace" Tip-Off Tournament.
Although the Muskies' senior inside combination of Jenna Boehm and Danielle Duranceau combined for 31 points to lead the team, the squad's guards were unable to convert on the offensive end, shooting just 16 percent.
"Our senior inside kids did the job we expected them to do, but we had a real tough time with our guard play," said head coach April Arvan. "Our guard play is pretty young and inexperienced and our experienced guard play, being Brenda (Paulson) and Amanda (Thielmann), went one for ten.
"That's part of the growing pains I think we're going to go through this year, but once we get it all together I think we'll have a pretty special group."
In addition to Boehm and Duranceau, Arvan started three freshman guards, Brittanie Paulus, Megan Chart and KC Blahnik, who all showed a great deal of promise in terms defensive intensity and quickness.
Although Paulus was 0-6 from the field, she led the Muskies on the boards with eight and picked up four steals and four blocks.
"There were spurts of intensity that show what we can do," Arvan said. "But as far as 40 minutes of intensity, we're definitely very far from that."
Lakeland stayed dead even with former Lake Michigan Conference rival MSOE for the majority of the game, taking their largest lead, 37-29, with a little over ten minutes left in the second half on a pair of Paulus free throws.
However, with 4:43 left in the game, Dana Guthrie sunk a three-pointer to put the Raiders back on top. Blahnik answered with a long ball of her own to knot up the score at 43, but another Guthrie three-pointer in addition to three made free throws on a shooting foul with under a minute to play put the Raiders up for good.
Lakeland shot 35 percent for the game, aided by 7-12 shooting from the floor by Duranceau and 6-11 from Boehm, while MSOE shot 40 percent. The Muskies also held themselves to 12 turnovers to the Raiders' 17, and converted 11 of 15 foul shots.
"I think our post play will continue to be just as solid as it was tonight," Arvan said. "We really don't need them to score more than 31 points, but if we have our guards go four for 25 we're not going to win a lot of games.
"I told our girls after the game that we dropped our first game of the year last year and had a 21 win season. Tournament play is fun in the fact that you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and get after it. Hopefully everybody will buy into that for tomorrow."
The Muskies will play in the tournament consolation game on Saturday, Nov. 18, against the loser of the North Park and MacMurray game currently in progress. Game time is set for 2 p.m.