St. Olaf holds off Concordia (Minn.) late for second-straight road win

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MOORHEAD, Minn. – The St. Olaf College women's basketball team picked up its second-straight road victory in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) play by holding off a fourth-quarter rally by Concordia College (Minn.) for a 76-73 win on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Auditorium.

After St. Olaf (8-13, 5-9 MIAC) led by 15 midway through the third quarter and led by 10 entering the fourth, Concordia (7-14, 4-10 MIAC) cut the deficit to four with just under four minutes to go and were within two with six seconds left. After Keegan Mulvihill split a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining, the Cobbers had a chance to send the game to overtime, but their desperation three from the left wing at the buzzer was blocked.

Four Oles reached double figures in scoring on the afternoon, led by 15 points apiece from Mulvihill and senior Makenna Ash. Ash logged her seventh-straight double-double, her 14th of the season, with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Mulvihill shot 4-for-6 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line on her way to 15 points and seven boards.

First year K'Lynn Lewis and junior Ella Skrien joined Ash and Mulvihill in double figures with 11 points apiece for St. Olaf, which also got a combined 20 points off the bench from junior Kelsie Gerovac, first year Camryn Scott and first year Sydney Beard.

A three-point play by Ash and three-pointer by Gerovac keyed a 7-0 run the put the Oles up 14-7 with three minutes left in the opening quarter. The seven-point lead was the largest of the first quarter for either team, as St. Olaf took a six-point lead into the second after Skrien hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the logo.

Concordia trimmed the St. Olaf lead to just two, 22-20, in the first two minutes of the second quarter before the Oles used a 9-0 run to go ahead 31-20. Mulvihill had four points during the run, which also included Gerovac's second three-pointer of the half, to help St. Olaf take a 39-30 lead into the locker room.

The Oles pushed their lead to 14, their largest of the afternoon, at 52-38 halfway through the third quarter after a three-pointer by Beard and led by at least seven until the Cobbers mounted a rally midway through the fourth.

A putback by Mary Sem and a three-pointer by Autumn Thompson quickly cut an 11-point St. Olaf lead to just six, 68-62, with 5:01 to play. Two free throws from Elizabeth Birkemeyer on the Cobbers' next possession make it a 7-0 run for the hosts and a four-point Ole lead.

With St. Olaf nursing the four-point lead, Skrien sank a deep two from the right wing with 2:18 left, but Grace Wolhowe answered with a layup for Concordia. The Oles split three-straight trips to the free-throw line, leaving St. Olaf with a seven-point lead with nine seconds on the clock.

Thompson's third three-pointer of the fourth quarter and a Rachel Hoernemann layup cut the lead to just two, 75-73, with six seconds left. After Mulvihill went 1-for-2 at the line, the Oles trapped the Cobbers near midcourt to run valuable time off the clock and blocked a desperation shot at the buzzer to escape with the victory.

Wolhowe led the Cobbers with a game-high 16 points and added four rebounds, three assists and six steals. Thompson made four three-pointers to score 14 points off the bench, while Birkemeyer (13), Hoernemann (11) and Sem (10) also were in double figures for Concordia.

St. Olaf visits the University of St. Thomas on Wednesday, Feb. 6 for a 7 p.m. contest against the No. 3-ranked Tommies at Schoenecker Arena.