LIMA - For 33 minutes, the University of Northwestern Ohio women's basketball was on its way to a strong Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference win against Cornerstone University. That last seven minutes, though, was a killer.
The Lady Racers gave up a double-digit lead and fell to the Golden Eagles 71-68 on Saturday at Racer Gymnasium. Cornerstone mounted a 12-3 run late in the second half to take a 69-68 lead with 1 minute, 35 seconds to play, adding a jumper 30 seconds later for the final margin.
"It's very frustrating because you have to take care of those games at home, you have to win those games at home," UNOH coach Kyle Menchhofer said. "For us to compete and be in the upper part of the league, you have to win the games at home and whatever happens on the road happens. You hope you can steal some of those games. We allowed them to steal a game away from us today."
UNOH ran out to an 11-0 lead in the first 3:28 of the game and went into the halftime break up 42-30. They were lights out from the floor, making 18-of-29 for 62 percent, led by Amanda Francis' 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
The Lady Racers pushed the lead to 16 points, 53-37, less than six minutes into the second half. They held a two-possession lead all the way through the 3:40 mark, but Janae Trombley hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 68-67, and Samantha Flietstra hit a layup to pull the Eagles ahead.
"We didn't get our transition game going, and when you allow them to score points, that slows your transition game down, and now you're playing 5-on-5. We don't have the type of team to play 5-on-5; we have to take advantage of numbers and attack the basket," Menchhofer said. "We stuck to the game plan very well for 37, 38 minutes, and the last few minutes we got away."
Francis scored just one more point in the second half on just four field goal attempts, finishing with a team-high 18 points. She added seven rebounds and three steals.
"Nothing different, they just tightened up their defense," Menchhofer said about the difference in Cornerstone's plan to stop Francis from the first half to second half. "We panicked, started watching the scoreboard."
Melissa Veltkamp led the way with 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals for Cornerstone (13-9, 6-4 WHAC). Flietstra added 18 points, eight boards and two steals.
The Lady Racers don't get much time to dwell on the loss with a Monday matchup against Marygrove College waiting; tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. at Racer Gymnasium. They follow that with a visit from WHAC rival Aquinas at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"To me, it's a blessing," Menchhofer said. "The best way to get that bad taste out of your mouth after losing is to get back playing again. We'll work hard in practice (Sunday) for about an hour, work on those mistakes we made."