Blahnik, Dennewitz fuel Lakeland comeback in NAC opener
Athletics - posted on 11/28/2009
The Lakeland women's basketball team erased a 21-point deficit, forcing overtime to defeat host Rockford 79-72 in the Northern Athletics Conference opener for both teams.
Junior guard Mary Dennewitz (Chicago, Ill.) hit a pair of free throws with three second remaining to tie the contest at 65. Rockford (0-4 overall, 0-1 NAC) got off a last-second 3-point attempt but was unable to convert.
"I think I nearly had a heart attack," said Dennewitz, who finished with 15 points and made 5-of-6 free throws. "My hands were shaking, but I just focused on the free throws. I am at the line a lot, so it wasn't really anything new for me."
The Muskies (5-0, 1-0) converted only one field goal in overtime, but made 12 free throws to seal the victory. The team made 28-of-39 (71.8 percent) from the free throw line in the game.
Down 46-25 at the 17:14 mark in the second half, the Muskies (5-0 overall, 1-0 NAC) slowly chipped away, narrowing Rockford's advantage to one point with 4:14 remaining and again at the 1:19 mark.
"In the first half, we couldn't connect on open looks from the perimeter and in the paint, and gave up too much defensively," Lakeland coach Teri Johnson said. "However, we continued to pressure defensively, which is our strong suit, and our defense produced our offense."
Lakeland applied a sweltering full-court press for a majority of the game, creating 20 steals and forcing 33 Rockford turnovers in the contest.
A steal by senior KC Blahnik (Gladstone, Mich.), who had a game-high 30 points and eight rebounds, gave the Muskies the ball with 26 seconds left, setting up Dennewitz's late-game heroics.
"We pressured a lot more in the second half," Dennewitz said. "We knew they were tired ... we did a nice job clogging the middle and created some easy steals."
Lakeland returns to action this Thursday, Dec. 3, at Maranatha Baptist at 7 p.m.
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