By Mike Monahan

HICKORY, N.C. — Lake Land, the No. 2 seed in the 16-team NJCAA Division II National Women’s Basketball Tournament, used strong second and third quarters to dispose of No. 15 Lackawanna College, 75-53, on Tuesday at the Tarlton Complex.

“The win is very special and it shows everyone what we could do last year, this year,” said Pana graduate Shanie Schoonover, a sophomore who finished with eight points and six rebounds. 

Last year the national tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

The last time the Lakers played in the national tournament was 2012 when they lost the first game, won the second and lost the third in the consolation semifinals. They also made the tournament in 2001 where they finished ninth in the nation, winning the first game 85-70 over Penn Valley.

Ironically Lake Land also beat Lackawanna in the 2012 tournament — 66-56 in the consolation bracket.

Lake Land trailed only once Tuesday, 11-10. The Lakers then reeled off 12 unanswered points in a span of 8 minutes, 4 seconds, holding the Falcons to only four field-goal attempts during that time.

“Early, we were not very good offensively as we got caught in a running game,” said Lake Land coach Dave Johnson. “We didn’t have good offensive balance going down in transition. The first quarter it was one of those things that you are trying to figure your way through it.”

The Lakers took the lead for good on a basket by Tresoir Newson, who finished with a team-high 14 points along with 10 rebounds and five assists. Newson was 6-of-7 from the field for the game.

Kamaria Gant then made one of two free throws, Abby Weis followed with a basket and Schoonover’s jumper made it 17-11. Newson scored on a feed from Harley Barry and, after a steal by Schoonover, Newson and Gant made layups to give Lake Land a 12-point advantage. Lackawanna ended its scoring drought with a basket by Mceykah Duley with 4:51 left in the half.

“We adjusted our defense to protect the gaps,” said Johnson. “We tried to stay in man-to-man as much as we could. We modified our attack using different angles within their offense and so it looked like a zone.”

With a 15-point lead, Lake Land knew what to do in the second half.

“We always go into the second half with a 0-0 score,” said Schoonover. “It doesn’t matter by how much we are leading. Coach always says to win all quarters.”

Lake Land lost only the fourth quarter, 19-18.

Lackawanna stayed within striking distance, trailing 39-30 in the third quarter when Lake Land went on an 18-4 run against a 2-3 zone. The Lakers, who had two 3-pointers at that time, hit four during this stretch to help them lead by 23 heading into the fourth quarter.

Johnson said the team finally adjusted to the zone in the second half. “That’s when we started getting some really good looks,” he said.

Abby Weis, who started the run with a basket, also started a 3-point barrage as Lake Land went ahead 44-30. Olivia Niemerg, Karrington Krabel and Elizabeth Buescher all made 3-pointers.

“Harely Barry hit a big three-pointer (for a 39-25 lead) and Weis and Krabel all had 3s, which created some pace for us,” said Johnson. “We had taken difficult shots in the first half, but in the second half our offensive had better structure and spacing.”

Lake Land, 22-2 and winners of 13 straight, held the Falcons, who were 14th in the nation in scoring to well below its average of 77.7 points per game. The Falcons made just 2-of-16 from 3-point range.

“We held their top two scorers to 12 and 11 points and they took a lot of shots to get that,” said Johnson of Nya Morris and Jamiya Eaddy. “I was very pleased with that.”

The two had averaged 15.3 and 16.9 points per game, respectively, and were a combined 11-of-26.

Lake Land had 15 turnovers compared to 26 for the Falcons and Lake Land outscored Lackawanna 25-11 in points off turnovers. 

“Lackawanna drove a lot and we had to pinch the gap instead of spacing out for the shooter,” said Schoonover. “This made it so they could not drive on us much.”

The team ate after the game and Johnson wants them to stay off their legs as much as they can.

“I am enjoying it, especially this being the last hurrah,” said Schoonover. “It is great to know we deserved to be here last year, like we do this year.”

Lake Land will play at 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) against the No. 10 seeded University of South Carolina Salkehatchie, a 74-68 winner over the No. 7 team, Arkansas State Mid-South. Salkehatchie is 19-0.

“I watched the first half and some of the third quarter,” said Johnson. “They are very talented and still undefeated. We will have practice in the morning and get ready for them and give it our best shot.”

Should the Lakers win and Parkland beat Union City, the two familiar foes will play in the semifinals Friday.

Lake Land1321231875
LackawannaLake Land
Field Goal22-5824-58
Field Goal %37.9%41.4%
3 Point2-166-13
3 Point %12.5%46.2%
Free Throw7-1021-30
Free Throw %70.0%70.0%
Points off Turnovers1125
2nd Chance Points1410
Points in the Paint3428
Fastbreak Points610
Bench Points2330
Largest Lead126