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Despite heading into the locker room with a 35-29 first half lead, the Lakeland College women's basketball team fell to Rockford College, 60-56, in a close Northern Athletics Conference game on Saturday, Dec. 15, at Lakeland.
The Muskies (4-4, 2-3 NAC) led the Regents (6-2, 4-0 NAC) by as many as 12 points in the first half, but Rockford slowly crawled back into the game and took the lead for the first time, 48-47, on a jumper by Amber Lee with 6:21 remaining in the second half.
Lakeland then fell into a scoring drought, allowing the Regents to build a six point lead. Sophomore guard KC Blahnik ended the issue with a jumper with just under four minutes to play, while sophomore guard Megan Chart moved the Muskies back within two points a 3-pointer with 3:19 remaining to cut the Regents' lead to 52-54. However, the Regents hit 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to close out the game.
"We tend to get comfortable and not take advantage of the opportunities that the other team gives us," said Lakeland head coach Teri Johnson. "For example, they had 22 turnovers. We need to learn to capitalize on other team's mistakes. Not being able to shut down their No. 41 (Angie Butler) was another problem for us. We lost out on opportunities on the boards as well, which continues to be a factor in games for us."
The Muskies couldn't seem to find an answer for Butler's post moves, as she racked up a game-high 25 points and shot 90 percent from the free throw line, and were plagued by a 46-33 rebounding margin in favor of the Regents.
However, Lakeland freshman guard Mary Dennewitz had a break-out game off the bench, scoring a team-high 15 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting effort.
"It was such a good thing to see," Johnson said. "She played an awesome game, and it was great to see her step up as a freshman. We knew she had the capability to have that type of game, and she just raised the standard for what we expect out of her."
Senior guards Peggy Keiper and Brenda Paulson also had double-digit scoring efforts with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Blahnik led the Muskies in rebounding with nine boards, four on the offensive glass, followed by sophomore forward Kayla Moffatt with six.
"KC Blahnik was all over the boards and got some key rebounds for us," Johnson said. "Megan Chart didn't score as much as she is capable of, but she made a clutch 3-pointer to help keep us in the game."
Lakeland will look to climb back above .500 with a pair of non-conference games as they travel to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Cruzin Classic Basketball Tournament at Barry University.
"I really want us to make sure that we learn from our mistakes, whether it is on a win or on a loss," Johnson said. "I just want to see us keep our intensity up throughout the entire game and not get so relaxed on offense and defense."
The Muskies will face UW-Oshkosh on Tuesday, Dec. 18, followed by Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.) on the 19th. Tip-off time for both games is set for 10 a.m.