MILWAUKEE -- It wasn't pretty, but Alverno College left downtown with a 58-50 victory over its crosstown and Northern Athletics Conference rival Milwaukee School of Engineering tonight in the Kern Center.
"Sometimes a championship-level team has to win on a night it didn't play its best and that was tonight," said Alverno head coach Brad Duckworth. "It's just as important, or maybe more important, than playing great and losing."
The winner of its fourth-straight game, the Inferno made just 13-of-25 free throws and allowed the winless Raiders (0-12, 0-6 NAC) to stick around until the very end of the game.
Trailing 41-39, Kristen Speerschneider hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Inferno in front for good, followed by an Anna Boteva 3 and a Kayla Kennedy jumper on the next two possessions for a 50-43 cushion with four minutes to play.
But the Raiders didn't go away and cut the deficit to a two-possession game with 32 seconds left on the clock before Boteva put the game away with four final free throws, two of which came on the Raiders' second technical foul of the contest.
"We came out of a timeout and we had a different energy," said Duckworth. "Kristen and Anna had big 3s, and we followed Kayla, who came out in the second half more aggressive on both ends of the floor and put the team on her back."
Kennedy scored 10 points and led the Inferno with seven rebounds and a game-high six assists, while Speerschneider added 10 points and Boteva lead all scorers with 17.
Shannon Larson led MSOE with 14 points and a game-best 13 rebounds, which helped the Raiders to a 43-29 advantage on the glass.
Tonight's win by the Inferno (10-6, 7-2 NAC) surpassed last season's win total of nine, but more importantly, kept the team in a tie for the top spot in the NAC North Division with Concordia Wisconsin and Edgewood, both also winners tonight.
Additionally, for just the fourth time in the 13-year history of the program the team secured double-digit wins, and marked Coach Duckworth's first victory at the Kern Center.
Alverno gets the weekend off before returning to action on Tuesday as it hosts Lakeland College at 7 p.m. in Reiman Gymnasium.