A light snow fell outside the gymnasium in Grand Rapids, MI as the Lady Eagles prepared to take on the Grace Bible Tigers. Coming off the previous weekend with large losses to two NAIA teams, the Eagles wanted a win. They didn't expect it to come easily, but they were ready to fight for a victory.
The Eagles' began the game with strong defense and good ball movement on the offense, though they seemed to struggle with their long shooting game in the first quarter. The first quarter saw nine lead changes, with the Eagles and the Tigers fighting hard to gain a solid footing against the other. At the end of the quarter, the Tigers led the Eagles 14-13.
The Eagles began to draw away from the Tigers early into the second quarter, as the long range shooters began to hit their mark. Rachel West earned her first 3-pointer of the year following her return to basketball after a successful season playing for the Emmaus Lady Eagles' volleyball team. While the Lady Eagles struggled to rebound aggressively, they gained a significant lead through several forced turnovers and the excellent offensive effort of freshman Tiffany Williams, aided by some well-placed passes by team-mates. The Tigers scored most of their second quarter points off of free-throws, sending the game into the half with the Eagles leading 43-27. Williams was 7 for 10 from the field at half-time with 15 of the Eagles' points.
The Eagles' maintained their lead in the third, but not without struggle. Both teams struggled to make shots early into the quarter, but the Tigers were able to force several turnovers and made several free throws to find themselves back within spitting distance of the Eagles' score. The Eagles, conversely, had a weak showing from the foul line in the quarter, aiding their opponents' efforts. However, a couple more threes from West late in the quarter placed the score at 57-47, allowing the Eagles to enter the fourth quarter with the upper hand.
The momentum from the end of the third quarter sent the Eagles on a 9-point run early in the fourth, by an assist each to Williams for two and Madison Laib for three from Marissa Kerttula, and a fourth three by West. The Tigers answered with their own run, placing the score at 66-56 with three minutes of game-time remaining. However, a quick lay-up from freshman Kaila Shock off an assist from Laib, a steal, and a 3-pointer from point guard Nakiah Kimble sealed the Eagles' victory, with a score of 72-59.
Coach Graw said after the game: "The key to this game was high pressure on the defensive end, speeding the game up and not turning the ball over and putting the ball in, and we did that." This victory is a big one for the Eagles, defeating the Grace Bible Tigers who are often ranked in the NCCAA and do well in their national tournament yearly. The 13-point victory margin shows the improvement of the Eagles from the '15-16 season, when the Eagles scraped a win against the Tigers by means of a last second field goal in OT. Continuation and improvement of the solid defense and team offense by the Eagles will send them to even greater heights this season. Tiffany Williams led the team with 21 points and 9 rebounds, followed by Madison Laib with 17 points and 9 rebounds, and Rachel West with 12 points and 4 rebounds. Kaila Shock and Nakiah Kimble each had 9 points, and Shock also contributed 8 rebounds.