Women’s Basketball Splits Weekend Series

Shawn Pohlmann
spohlmann@css.edu

This past weekend was the first weekend of conference play for the College of St. Scholastica women’s basketball team. They traveled to the cities to play the North Central University Rams and the University of Northwestern Eagles.

The Saints first opponent in conference play was North Central on Friday night. So far this season they’ve been more of a first half team, and it showed again in this game. They started out the first quarter scoring a quick five points and broke out to an early nine to four lead, but the Rams answered with a run of their own to take a three-point lead with four minutes left. The Saints then retaliated with a 17-point run that extended to the second quarter to go up 28-14. The Saints continued to extend their lead as they went into the half with a score of 39-25.

The second half started out well for the Saints as they started on a seven to three run in the first five minutes of the third quarter. The Saints finished the third quarter with a 22 point lead with the scoreboard reading 60-38. The Rams came a little closer in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough.The Saints would start out conference play with a 70-55 win.

Leading for Scholastica was junior Sam Brannan with 11 and sophomore Michala Walther with 10.

This was the first conference game for the Saints after playing teams they don’t see on a year-to-year basis.

“We’ve been looking forward to getting into conference play for a few weeks now, and it felt great to finally get that underway,” said junior
Holly VanKempen. “Being able to get a win really boosted our confidence.”

“I think that this year in conference play we are going to do well,” said junior Emelia Miner. “The team is hard working and is willing to do what it takes to be on top.”

The team then packed up their bags and traveled to the University of Northwestern the next day to take on the conference rival Eagles. The game would be a good test for the Saints as Northwestern was seeded first in the preseason conference polls. The Saints started out with a quick four to nothing lead, but they would only make two more field goals the rest of the quarter, and faced a six-point deficit heading into the second. During the second quarter, the Saints and Eagles exchanged buckets for the first five minutes, keeping it at a six-point Eagle lead with five remaining in the half. Northwestern finished strong, however, by ending the half on an eleven to two run to go into the locker room with a 37-22 lead over the Saints.

The Eagles increased their lead to 18 with 3:43 left in the third quarter. The Saints needed to get something going, and that is exactly what they did by ending the quarter on a seven to one run to go into the fourth quarter down 35-47.

Things got interesting in the fourth quarter as the Saints started out on a ten to two run to come within four with 7:11 left in the game. With 2:43 left in the game, sophomore guard Michala Walther scored a layup to bring the Saints within two. Unfortunately, the Eagles went on an eight to zero run to end the game and won with a score of 63-53.

Leading the Saints in this game was Walther with 17 points, while Brannan added 12 of her own. VanKempen had a double-double, recording 11 points and 11 rebounds in the conference showdown.

The Saints put themselves in a good spot to win, but they weren’t able to close out the game. Despite the loss, the players were happy with the way they battled in the second half.

“In the third and fourth quarter we were on a roll and the game was getting more intense as it went on,” said Miner. “We had the momentum towards the end of the game, but lost it as they scored as well. We fell short at the end, but there is no doubt we played a tough game right to the sound of the buzzer and never gave up.”

Northwestern is one of the top two teams in the UMAC, which gives the Saints a good way to judge where they stand at this point in the season.

“UW-Superior and Northwestern being the teams that look to be the strongest in our conference, our team’s expectation is that we will be able to compete closely with both of them and finish in the upper half of the conference,” said Walther.

The Saints will look to improve on their conference and overall record next weekend when they play the Finlandia University Lions and UMAC opponent Northland College at home.