The late-season surge continues for the University of Mary women’s basketball team.
The Marauders capped off a weekend sweep on Saturday at the McDowell Activity Center, defeating Winona State 81-64. It was the third straight Northern Sun victory for U-Mary, and their fifth in the last six games.
A flurry of three-pointers and some stingy defense helped turn the tide in the third quarter.
Lauren Rotunda hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 14-2 run in the third quarter that put U-Mary in control for good.
“At halftime we talked about how their defense was all coming into the middle of the lane and the threes were open,” Rotunda said. “I give all the credit to Cassie (Askvig) because she drove right into the lane and she found the open player every single time. It was unselfish play. We played together.”
The Marauders took advantage of some open looks from the perimeter with the Warriors’ defense packing the lane. U-Mary hit on 11 of 27 from beyond the arc.
U-Mary hit four 3-pointers during the decisive run – two by Rotunda, and one apiece from Christal Hearn and Dani Williams.
“Offensively, we found our rhythm,” Marauders coach Rick Neumann said. “And everything looks a lot better when the 3-ball goes in. Lauren hit some big ones.”
The Marauders led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but Winona State used a 16-4 burst to take a 40-38 halftime lead on Kayla Schafer’s jumper 12 seconds before the break.
“They shot 58 percent in the first half,” Neumann said. “We told the girls that hopefully if we played a little better defense they wouldn’t shoot that well in the second half.”
And the Marauders ratcheted up the defense after the break, holding the Warriors to just six points in the third quarter, and only 24 over the final 20 minutes.
“We definitely focused on when their posts would dribble away, then the corner guard would come and double because they were killing us on the inside,” Rotunda said. “We really focused on helping the helper and just playing together.”
It was the second consecutive night the Warriors had trouble scoring in the third quarter, after scoring three in the period the night before at Minot State.
“I think some of that had to do with our defense,” Neumann said. “We just tightened up some of our dribble drive slides and didn’t let them get to the rim so easily.”
U-Mary gradually pulled away, building an 18-point lead and finishing off the 81-64 victory.
The Marauders had five players in double figures. Gabbie Bohl finished with 25 points and nine rebounds to lead the way. Rotunda, who hit 3 of 4 from 3-point range, finished with 12. Asvkig posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Hearn had a career-high 11 points and Macy Williams added 10.
“It just kept building and building because we got stops,” Neumann said. “We got stops on that end and just had some good offensive flow, and when you have that kind of balance it makes life a lot easier as a coach.”
Allie Pickrain and Hannah McGlone scored 14 points apiece for the Warriors (13-7, 9-7 NSIC). McGlone also had a team-high 10 rebounds. Schaefer added 13.
“I’m just proud of this team,” Neumann said. “That’s 9-3 at home. We played really, really well. We have to go on the road now for four in a row but hopefully when we come back for that last weekend, we’re in a position to really have that be a meaningful weekend.”
The Marauders go on the road the next two weekends, starting with a trip to Sioux Falls and Southwest Minnesota State next week.
“We’re feeling really good,” Rotunda said. “We're hoping we can carry on this momentum for the next few weekends.”