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SHEBOYGAN-The Lakeland women's basketball team fought back from a 35-23 halftime deficit, outscoring Elmhurst in the second half, but came up short as the Blue Jays defeated the Muskies 71-64 in a non-conference battle Tuesday night in Wolzen Gymnasium.
Trailing by 14 at the 10-minute mark in the second half, Lakeland closed the gap to five with four minutes remaining on a pair of free throws by junior Katie Kilton (Wauesha). After the Blue Jay lead stretched back to nine, the Muskies cut the deficit to five in the final minute before giving up a layup to close the game.
"It was a bad first half," said Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson. "We had to dig ourselves out of a hole. We came back in the second half, and it would have been nice to have our second half in the first the way we took care of the ball."
Both teams struggled to retain possession of the basketball in the first half, combining for 33 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, 19 belonging to Lakeland.
"We beat ourselves," Johnson said. "We took passes that we don't practice and hurt ourselves by making bad plays. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half, but we had a couple of kids step up in the second half that we didn't have in the first."
Kilton scored a team-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, with 16 coming in the second half. Juniors Chelsea Coenen (Wrightstown) and KC Blahnik (Gladsford, Mich.) both added double digits for the Muskies, scoring 17 and 11 points, respectively, with each grabbing eight rebounds.
"Katie was in rhythm in the second half and played big for us," said Johnson. "She was our hot hand. KC Blahnik also led the way a bit in the second with connecting shot after shot. She saves us with rebounding and hustle plays, and that was complimented by Katie and her play on the inside."
Lakeland (3-2, 1-0 NAC) shot 25-of-61 for the game, hitting only four of its 17 3-pointers on the evening.
Elmhurst shot 47 percent on the night on 33-of-69 shooting, but struggled from behind the arc, making 1-of-10 3-point attempts. Lyndsie Long scored 17 for the Blue Jays on 7-of-14 shooting. Kelsey Monroe, Anna Randazzo and Brittany Bobruk each scored in double figures in the victory.
Lakeland returns to Northern Athletics Conference action Thursday night as the Muskies face Maranatha in Watertown, Wis. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.