MILWAUKEE -- Alverno College outscored visiting Lakeland College 29-16 in the second half en route to a 48-42 Northern Athletics Conference victory Tuesday evening in Reiman Gymnasium for the Inferno's fifth-straight win.
Alverno head coach Braid Duckworth had a straightforward pep talk with his team at halftime. "All I said was, 'you almost want to win too badly. Can we just go out and be us?'"
The Inferno, which trailed 26-19 at the break, opened the second half with a 9-0 run to take its first lead since the game's opening minutes. An Anna Boteva 3-pointer capped off the run for the host team's only make from beyond the arc on the night.
Lakeland (7-11, 5-6 NAC) quickly answered and took back a one-point lead, but it would be its last, as Alverno responded with a 14-1 run for its largest lead of the night, 44-32.
The Inferno scored just two points on a pair of free throws the final 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the game, but the team's defense was enough to hold off the Muskies' final comeback.
Alverno (11-6, 8-2) made just 60 percent (9-for-15) of its free throws and 10 percent of its 3s (1-for-10), but its defense held Lakeland to just four second-half field goals on 18 percent shooting.
"It was a complete team win, and I'm proud of them," added Duckworth.
The Inferno forwards, Devon Gorman and Jamie Hoernke, led the offensive attack with 15 and 11 points and snagged a team-high six rebounds apiece. Kayla Kennedy led perimeter scoring with nine and had a game-best four assists.
Ashley Berry added five points on a 2-for-3 night for the Inferno's 5-0 advantage in bench points.
Kristen Speerschneider struggled shooting the ball (0-for-9), but the junior point guard handled the Muskies' full-court pressure defense and did not commit a single turnover in 40 minutes of play.
The Muskies, who lost their third-straight game, were led by Becky Mayo's double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs.
Alverno, again tied for first place in the NAC North Division with Concordia University Wisconsin and Edgewood College, will get a week off before hosting Edgewood on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. in Reiman Gymnasium.