Vikings pull away down the stretch to top Grinnell

Lawrence's Shonell Benjamin scored 12 points off the bench in the Vikings' 71-64 victory over Grinnell.
Lawrence's Shonell Benjamin scored 12 points off the bench in the Vikings' 71-64 victory over Grinnell.

APPLETON, Wis. -- The Lawrence University women's basketball team got some key baskets and clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch Saturday in a 71-64 Midwest Conference victory over Grinnell College at Alexander Gymnasium. 

Kenya Earl paced Lawrence with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Shonell Benjamin came off the bench to add 12 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Vikings (6-13, 4-6 MWC). 

Lawrence's Erin Hill added 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Olivia Hoesley had nine points. Point guard Nicole Cummins picked up eight points and four assists.

Kayla Morrissey led Grinnell (7-9, 4-7) and all scorers with 30 points and 13 rebounds.

The Vikings led by 13 points at 57-44 early in the fourth quarter before Grinnell rallied behind Morrissey, who had 19 points in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers went on a 13-4 run to trim the lead to 61-57 with 3:09 remaining.

Earl then converted a pair of free throws for the Vikings, and Tyria Heath made one foul shot to cut the lead to 63-58 with 2:36 left. The Pioneers then missed a pair of free throws, and Leah Reeves then hit a critical short jumper to put the Vikings up 65-58 with 1:44 remaining.

Morrissey was fouled on the next possession but missed both free throws, and the Vikings then spent the rest of the game at the foul line. Reeves made one free throws to give Lawrence a 66-58 edge, and Grinnell followed by missing its next three shots from the floor. 

Lawrence went 6-for-8 at the foul line over the final 1:32 to seal the victory. 

The Vikings jumped out to a big early lead and Grace Minogue's jumper put Lawrence up 21-9 with 31 seconds left in the opening quarter. The Vikings led 21-12 after one, but Grinnell quickly trimmed that lead to 23-20 midway through the second. Lawrence finished the first half on a 10-2 run, capped by Benjamin's jumper, and led 33-22 at the break.

The third quarter was one scoring run after another as Lawrence's lead grew to 12, was cut back down to three and grew back to 12 at 54-42 after three quarters.

Lawrence's victory was the first over Grinnell since the 2006-07 season and snapped the Pioneers' 17-game win streak in the series.