Sophie Sears paced Goshen with 23 points and Lynnia Noel added 20 as the Goshen College women’s basketball team took a 77-73 victory over the University of Saint Francis Saturday afternoon.

The game stayed within five points the entire first quarter, with the Maple Leafs holding the lead the majority of the time. Noel paced Goshen (5-6, 1-2) with nine points in the opening stanza as the hosts took a 28-23 advantage into the first break. Kara Gerka led all scorers with 11 first quarter points for the Cougars (3-7, 1-2).

In the second quarter Goshen again turned to their senior guards, as Sears and Noel evenly combined for 12 of the 15 Maple Leafs points through the 10-minute period. Gerka added four more to her total 15 points to lead Saint Francis in the first half. Goshen’s lead would grow as big as nine in the closing minutes of the half, and the Maple Leafs took a 43-36 lead into halftime.

Saint Francis responded in the third quarter via three players scoring buckets, as both Quila Jackson and Savannah Davis tallied nine points a piece alongside four more from Gerka. Goshen struggled to convert on shots, as Sears would lead the quarter with only four points and the Cougars would snag the lead 58-55 heading into the fourth stanza.   

The Maple Leafs wasted no time regaining control of the game to start the fourth quarter, scoring the first seven points to take the advantage, 62-58. Saint Francis countered with a Gerka 3-pointer, and a bit later with 4:29 left to play an Angela McLean bucket put Goshen up for good. The Maple Leaf lead would fluctuate between one and five points before settling at a 77-73 final in favor of the hosts.

Goshen finished 30-of-63 (48 percent) from the floor and outrebounded the Cougars 36-to-34. Sears finished with 23 points as well as six assists and three steals to lead the Maple Leafs, followed by Noel with 20 points and three assists. Stein finished with a team-high eight rebounds. Gerka finished with a game-high 26 points to lead Saint Francis.

The Maple Leafs took on Bethel College last night; however, the game did not finish before print deadline. The team now has 12 days off before returning to Gunden Gymnasium for a non-conference clash with Indiana University Kokomo,  with tipoff set for 6 p.m. on Dec. 19.