Grace College senior Juaneice Jackson takes to the air on her way to the basket during Thursday's game against Oakland City College. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Grace College senior Juaneice Jackson takes to the air on her way to the basket during Thursday's game against Oakland City College. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
WINONA LAKE – Following an 84-66 win over Oakland City College Thursday evening in the NCCAA Midwest Regional Championship, Grace College’s women’s basketball team cut down the nets at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.
Coach Scott Blum and the Lady Lancers hope to do the same next week when they host the NCCAA Division I National Championships.
“There aren’t any banners here for women’s basketball,” said Blum, motioning to the rafters, where there’s national championship banners for men’s basketball, softball and volleyball. We want to win championships.
“This is our first official championship,” added Blum, whose team improved to 17-15 overall this season with the 18-point win. “I told the girls to cut down the nets. I wanted them to enjoy this. They earned it.”
The Lady Lancers earned Thursday’s win behind the duo of senior Juaneice Jackson and junior Allison Kauffman, and with a dominating 54-23 edge on the boards.
Jackson, the team’s lone senior and the program’s all-time leading scorer, poured in a game-high 23 points to go along with nine rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals.
The 5-foot-7 guard from Gary scored 13 of her points in the first half, as the Lady Lancers led 39-36 at the break.
The second half belonged to Kauffman, as the 6-0 frontliner scored 19 points of her 22 points after the intermission.
Kauffman finished the game 10 of 14 from the field and also added six rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Oaks, who fell to 10-14 on the season, simply had nobody to stop Kauffman.
“Allison Kauffman was very patient tonight,” said Blum. “She did a nice job running the floor and getting some easy buckets.”
Sophomore Kelsey Sule chipped in with seven points, while freshman Chloe Pridgen added six points and six rebounds and freshman Dariyan Morris scored five points.
Junior Lindsey Schaefer and sophomores Micah Pollard and Gabby Bryant scored four points each, as 12 players scored at least two points.
“I may have the deepest team in our conference,” said Blum, whose team posted a program-best 12-6 record in the always-tough Crossroads League. “It’s a big benefit that I have so many girls I can bring off the bench. It’s tough sometimes to find playing time for everyone, but this group has been awesome with that.”
Grace pulled away to a 66-46 lead in the second half, but Oakland city tripped the deficit to eight points with a quartet of three-pointers.
The Lady Lancers, however, responded with a 10-0 run of their own and put the game away.
Grace finished the game 32 of 65 (49 percent) from the field overall, 3 off 11 from the arc, and 17 of 22 at the free throw line.
While Kauffman and the Lancers dominated the paint, the Oaks were more a perimeter team, as 14 of their 24 made field goals were from the arc.
Oakland City was 24 of 72 (33 percent) from the field overall, 14 of 31 from the arc, and 4 of 5 at the charity stripe.
“We knew they would keep launching three-pointers,” Blum said of the Oaks. “We changed things at halftime and switched on everything in the second half. We also knew they would get tired, that our depth and pressure would wear them down.”
Senior guard Lyndi Tedder led the Oaks with 21 points, while senior Chelsea Jones and junior Brandi Richardson added 17 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.
The Lady Lancers will be in action again Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the eight-team NCCAA Division National Championships, though the hosts don’t know yet who they will play.

OCC    36    30    –    66
GC    39    45    –    84
OCC – Lyndi Tedder 8-18 0-0 21, Whitney Malin 2-6 0-0 5, Chelsea Jones 6-12 0-0 17, Brooke Jackson 1-6 0-0 3, Brandi Richardson 4-13 0-0 10, Raven Greer 2-10 2-3 6, Kolbi Edens 0-1 0-0 0, Hailey Menke 0-0 0-0 0, Jessica Hobson 0-0 0-0 0, Hope Marigny 0-1 2-2 2, Ashley Forbes 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsay Shell 0-0 0-0 0, Kayla White 0-3 0-0 0, Kaebra LaGrange 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-72 4-5 66.
Grace – Allison Kauffman 10-14 2-4 22, Lindsey Schaefer 1-3 2-2 4, Gabby Bryant 1-4 2-2 4, Juaneice Jackson 10-18 1-1 23, Darian Patton 1-5 1-2 3, Heather House 0-0 0-0 0, Micha Pollard 1-2 2-2 4, Kelsey Sule 2-2 2-2 7, Jesse Feitz 0-0 0-0 0, Dariyan Morris 2-5 1-2 5, Chloe Pridgen 2-7 2-2 6, Sarah Feasby 1-3 0-1 2, Tiffany Petro 1-2 0-0 2, Hannah Adams 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 32-65 17-22 84.
Three-pointers – OCC 14 (Jones 5, Tedder 5, Richardson 2, Malin, Jackson), Grace 3 (Jackson 2, Sule); Rebounds – OCC 23, Grace 54 (Schaefer 10, Jackson 9); Turnovers – OCC 9, Grace 17; Fouls – OCC 15, Grace 10; Fouled out – none; Records: OCC 10-14, Grace 17-15