YANKTON, S.D. – After dominating much of the first half on Friday night, the Waldorf women’s basketball team couldn’t keep the momentum going, losing 72-60 at Mount Marty in non-conference action.
“Ball control is crucial at certain times of a game,” Waldorf head coach Katie Schutjer said. “We had it overall today, but didn’t have it at the game’s most crucial times.”
Waldorf (4-10 overall, 2-3 NSAA) came out firing from the opening tipoff, with the Warriors jumping out to early 8-2 and 24-12 leads in the first quarter.
Taylor Fricke looked unstoppable for the first couple of minutes of action: The junior forward from Gilman, Iowa, scored six of Waldorf’s first eight points.
Fricke went on to lead all scorers with 16 points, and led the Warriors with eight rebounds, as well, as Waldorf led 27-19 at the end of the first quarter.
After getting out to a great start, Waldorf’s red-hot play began to cool towards the later part of the first half. Still, the Warriors led, 36-34, as both teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
The Warriors just couldn’t find their grove in the second half, though.
Mount Marty (9-7, 1-7 GPAC) capitalized on Waldorf’s cold shooting in the third quarter – 3-of-14 after going 14-of-30 in the first half – and with 2:36 remaining in the third session, the Lancers went on a 17-2 run to give themselves a 51-40 lead.
“The third quarter was detrimental for us today,” Schutjer said. “We got out of position a lot on defense, and we ended up putting them on the foul line. They capitalized and shot 12-of-14 from the free-throw line in that quarter.”
Waldorf refused to go down without a fight, and trailing by 13 points entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors went back to playing old-school basketball and constantly attacked the rim.
The game-plan turned out to be successful as Michaela Graffunder and Fricke both found themselves on the free-throw line early on in the fourth quarter.
Graffunder was the only other Warriors player to post a double-digit scoring total on the night, finishing with 12 points and a team-high five assists.
“Other than the third quarter, we played a fairly even game,” Waldorf’s head coach said. “We didn’t shoot as well in the second half.”
Fricke made both of her free-throw attempts to make it just a seven-point deficit at 60-53.
The valiant attempt at a comeback was for naught though as the Lancers rebounded with a subsequent 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Down by 17 points with under three minutes to play, the Warriors simply ran out of time.
“We had a short run in the fourth quarter, but it was cut short due to two turnovers back-to-back that led to points for them,” Schutjer said.
In spite of the loss, the Warriors defended very well on the perimeter. Their relentless pressure on Mount Marty’s Ali Kuca made her shoot under 10 percent (1-11) from the field, which included her missing all eight of her 3-point attempts.
Kuca came into Friday’s action ranked 11th in Division II NAIA women’s basketball in total 3-point baskets made with 45.
The final game of 2017 for the Warriors, Waldorf begins 2018 with a North Star Athletic Association road matchup at Presentation College on Jan. 5.