Becca Gallis poured in a career-high 30 points as the Monmouth women and Lake Forest each controlled large stretches of the game, but in the end the Foresters hung a 67-59 loss on the Scots, dropping Monmouth into a tie for second in the league with Lake Forest.
Leading 18-15 at the end of the first quarter, the Scots went cold in the second 10 minutes as Lake Forest raced out to a 39-23 halftime lead. The tables turned in the second half when Shayne Smith scored on the Scots’ first possession and Gallis hit a jumper and a pair of free throws to close the gap to 39-29. Two Allie Meyers’ free throws with five minutes left in the period began Monmouth’s 15-2 run to close the gap to 46-45 entering the fourth quarter.
The Foresters opened the final frame with a four-point play and took a seven-point lead on another jumper on their first two possessions. The Scots stayed close, cutting the deficit to two at 57-55 on a Carley Turnbull bucket-and-one with 2:22 left to play. Lake Forest held off the Scots in the final minute with another four-point play and a 7-of-9 performance from the free throw line.
The Scots could climb back into a share of first place in the league Friday when they host league-leading Ripon in a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
The Monmouth men took the lead for good midway through the first half, but had to withstand a furious second half by Lake Forest to post an 87-83 road win and move into a three-way tie for fourth place in the Midwest Conference.
The Scots improved to 5-1 in the month of January to move to 6-4 in the conference, tying Lake Forest and Lawrence for the final berth in next month’s league championships. Monmouth hit 56 percent of their shots in the first half to lead 48-32 at the break, but the Foresters ramped up their offense in the second half as the Scots’ shooting cooled.
Monmouth stretched the lead to 20 after the break, 54-34, on a pair of D.J. Swift 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the half. The lead grew to 21, at 62-41 when Trey Swearingen drained a three with 12:52 left. Lake Forest then chipped away, first trimming the hole to nine on a bucket-and-one with 5:59 left to make the Scots’ lead 73-64. The Scots lead dwindled to 80-75 on another Forester bucket-and-one with 1:06 to play, but Monmouth went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 63 seconds to hang on for the win.
Will Carius earned his first double-double since setting the program single-game scoring record on Jan. 2 with a 26-point, 10-rebound effort. Carius’ night included a perfect 13-for-13 from the line. Swift dialed in 19 points while Justin Batterton added 16 and Tyler Houston chipped in 13.
Monmouth could continue their climb up the league ladder Friday when they host Ripon, currently No. 3 in the MWC standings. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m.