Making adjustments early in the game and at halftime made a big difference for the University of Mary women’s basketball team.
The Marauders shot well from long range early on, and went inside in the second half to post a 74-66 Northern Sun victory over Concordia-St. Paul on Friday at the McDowell Activity Center.
And down the stretch, they made the big plays and clutch free throws they needed to seal the win.
The Golden Bears gained a split of the doubleheader, closing on a 14-2 run to stun the U-Mary men 70-66 in the late game.
Early on, the Marauders faced an unexpected look from the Golden Bears, who came out in a zone defense. U-Mary took advantage of the open perimeter looks, hitting 8 of 16 3-point shots in the first half, racing out to an early 10-point lead.
“Coming into the game they had only played eight possessions of zone all year,” Marauders coach Rick Neumann said. “So even though we worked to face everything throughout the course of the week, I’ll give our girls credit for making a quick adjustment to some of the things we were planning on emphasizing. We had to go to the other stuff since they were playing zone.”
The Marauders hit 10 of 28 (35.7 percent) from beyond the arc in the contest – getting three apiece from Macy Williams, Dani Williams and Jordyn Jossart.
Leading 37-32 at the half, U-Mary changed things up to get things going in the lane.
"We shot the ball very well in the first half and then at halftime we made an adjustment to try to be able to get some more post touches,” Neumann said. “We knew we’d half to score inside at some point. We went to our power offense ... and I thought we did a good job of it.
“And they had to come out and guard us because of how we shot in the first half. So we were able to feature the inside more in the second half so we could avoid those lulls, outside of the one that started the fourth quarter.”
Getting the ball inside to their posts in the second half, the Marauders were able to open up a nine-point lead.
But a long scoreless stretch to start the final quarter allowed Concordia-St. Paul to rally, pulling within 58-56 with four minutes remaining.
Cassie Askvig hit a jumper to break the drought, Macy Williams hit a 3-pointer and Gabbie Bohl scored inside to make it a nine-point lead (65-56) with 1:38 remaining and the Marauders sealed it at the line.
“We’ve been in this situation before where we’ve had some leads and we played pretty well,” Neumann said. “But even in this game in the fourth quarter we looked down we hadn’t scored and there was four minutes to go. But then we stepped up and made some big free throws – 18 out of 23 – that’s what did it.
“I’m proud of our girls, especially stepping up and hitting big-time free throws at the end.”
Bohl paced the Marauders (7-10, 3-8 NSIC) with 17 points and nine rebounds. Dani Williams added 13, Jossart finished with 11, and Askvig and Williams each had nine.
Anna Schmitt scored 14 of CSP’s 16 fourth-quarter points to keep the Golden Bears (4-12, 1-9 NSIC) with 28. Brianna Miller added 11.
CSP 70, U-Mary 66
The Marauders were so close to a second straight Northern Sun win.
But Concordia-St. Paul rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 2:20 to stun U-Mary.
“We played a good basketball game, we just didn’t close,” Marauders coach Joe Kittell said. “And that’s the hard part because you did all that work to build that lead and to play so well. We had the five guys I wanted out on the floor to finish that thing, we just kind of panicked and didn’t make the play we needed to at the end to win the game.”
A Tom Kubank 3-pointer gave the Marauders a 64-56 lead with 2:35 to play, but the win slipped away as the Golden Bears reeled off eight straight points in a span of 39 seconds to even it up at 64-64 with 1:41 left.
U-Mary got the lead back on a Matthew Kreklow jump hook with 1:12 left, but CSP scored the final six points to grab the win,
Avan Ward’s jumper tied it at 66-66 with 54 seconds left, and he hit four straight free throws in the final 7.5 seconds for the Golden Bears.
“All their points kind of came in transition tonight, which we knew they were going to be able to do,” Kittell said. “It’s just too bad that it happened a lot at the very end.
Ward led CSP (3-13, 2-8 NSIC) with 27 points. Bryndan Matthews added 19 and Ted Brown 10.
“We just couldn’t get that stop that we’d been getting the whole game. We just panicked a bit and couldn’t get that big stop,” Kittell said. “I thought our guys played hard, just the last two and a half minutes got away from us.”
Kubank and Keith Hunter paced the Marauders (3-12, 1-10 NSIC) with 16 points apiece. Kreklow added 11 and Wyatt Carr nine.
“It’s hard. These guys have done a lot of good things these last couple of weeks and I thought we played a great basketball game except for the last two and a half minutes,” Kittell said.
The Marauders host Minnesota State-Mankato today.