LAGRANGE — Just when it looked like Keystone was on its way to a win on its home court Monday, Lorain turned up the pressure and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Led by Nemaja’ Grant, who scored 14 of her team-high 20 points in the second half, the Titans outscored Keystone by 10 points in the fourth quarter to escape with 61-54 come-from-behind win in a non-league game.
Lorain (9-9) trailed 44-38 with 6:30 left in the game after Keystone’s Hailey Sprouse hit one of her four 3-pointers. Sprouse was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points.
The Titans took their first lead of the fourth quarter on freshman Mikiya Hermon’s layup, making the score 50-49 with 3:11 remaining.
They would hold onto the lead the rest of the way.
Hermon, one of three Titans in double figures, had 11 points.
Although Lorain scored 25 points in the fourth quarter, it was on the defensive end that it secured the win.
The Titans forced Keystone into seven fourth-quarter turnovers and held the Wildcats to 25 percent shooting over the final eight minutes.
“We took off the zone that we were in and tried to press them full court,” Grant said. “We started to realize they didn’t do well under pressure. We also did a better job of communicating and talking on defense in the fourth quarter.”
Keystone (7-7) held a 29-24 halftime lead but Grant and Hermon came out of the locker room and scored the first seven points of the half as the Titans went up 31-29.
“We went in at halftime and thought about how we were playing and we talked about it and said, ‘This is unacceptable for us,’” Grant said. “We cleared everything out of our minds and came out like it was 0-0 and started working harder.”
For the first three quarters, every time the Wildcats needed to score, either Sprouse, Valeri Broschk (11 points) or Taylor Stefan (nine) came through. In the fourth quarter, Keystone struggled to maintain possession long enough to even get a good look at the basket.
“We just didn’t handle the pressure,” Keystone coach Scott Terry said. “We didn’t handle the basketball plain and simple. In the second half it was the turnovers that did us in. We were like deer in the headlights. We didn’t handle the passing aspect of the game well enough.”
The Wildcats’ fourth-quarter meltdown overshadowed the fact it had one of its best offensive performances of season.
“It was nice to see us score 54 points,” Terry said. “We could have had a nice cushion if we would have kept Lorain off the offensive boards in the first half. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
As well as Lorain played down the stretch, it could have easily lost the game at the free throw line. The Titans only connected on four of their last 14 free throw attempts and were 9-for-23 from the line for the game.
“At halftime we decided we’ve had enough of this poor play and we came out and turned it up,” Lorain coach Mark Feldmann said. “I think we came out a little flat but we’ve played a lot of close games recently and in the fourth quarter we had that feeling like, ‘Here we go again.’ Not, ‘Here we go again,’ in a bad way but “Here, we go again,’ we can do this.”
The Titans have won five of their last six games and their last three wins have all been by seven points or fewer.
Tanya Llanos also scored 12 points for Lorain.
“We’ve been playing good team basketball,” Grant said. “One person will score, then another and it gets everybody going. If we keep working hard, practice our defense and work on making our shots we can keep this going.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorain 61, Keystone 54
LORAIN (61): Ashley Hisle 1-4-6, Nae Boahannon 2-0-4, Phyllicia Weatherspoon 1-1-3, Nicole Ortiz 2-0-5, Nemaja’ Grant 8-3-20, Tanya Llanos 6-0-12, Mikiya Hermon 5-1-11. Totals 25-9-61.
KEYSTONE (54): Madi Herrington 1-2-4, Shelby Fortune 1-0-2, Haley Sprouse 8-4-24, Valeri Broschk 2-7-11, Taylor Stefan 4-1-9, Peyton Halleen 1-0-2, Grace Baracskai 0-2-2. Totals 17-16-54.
Lorain 8 16 12 25 — 61
Keystone 15 14 10 15 — 54
Three-point goals: Lorain (Ortiz, Grant), Keystone (Sprouse 4). Field goals: Lorain 25-60 (42 percent), Keystone 17-46 (37 percent). Free throws: Lorain 9-23 (39 percent), Keystone 16-23 (70 percent). Rebounds: Lorain 34, Keystone 39. Turnovers: Lorain 11, Keystone 19. Total fouls: Lorain 18, Keystone 16. Fouled out: Llanos, Baracskai.
Junior varsity: Keystone, 34-27