MARSHALL - There's no way to sugar-coat it. The first half of Friday night's Southwest Conference game between the Marshall girls basketball team and visiting Pipestone Area was ugly.
Each team struggled to make any type of shot outside the paint and there were several tie-ups, turnovers and bodies on the floor in a physical 18 minutes of action. It was the type of game that the Arrows needed to be in to stick with the Tigers, who went into halftime up 22-16.
"That's certainly the kind of game they wanted in the first half, I would guess," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. "They're extremely physical, we knew that going in, but to their credit, they were very patient on the offensive end and we just couldn't get anything to fall in that first half."
Marshall’s Hannah Bennett, left, drives around
Pipestone’s Kelly Nettik in the low post during the first half of Friday night’s Southwest Conference contest at Marshall High School. Bennett led all scorers with 13 points in the game.
The Tigers didn't let the Arrows hang around much longer. Marshall burst out of the locker room on a 21-2 run over the first 11 minutes of the second half on its way to a 50-26 Southwest Conference win Friday night at Marshall High School.
Marshall guard Hannah Bennett led all scorers with 13 points, while forward Kenzie Beekman tallied 10 points in the win.
Bennett started the second half with close-range jumper. Then on the inbounds pass, Beekman stole the under the basket and immediately scored on a layup. Pipestone head coach Jay Johnson called a timeout just 32 seconds into the half, but the break in the action didn't stall Marshall's big run.
Pipestone Area (26)
Amanda Haupert 1 0-0 2, Kayla Stout 5 2-4 12, Kelly Nettik 1 2-2 4, Ashley Griebel 1 0-0 2, Jamie Lentz 0 2-6 2, Libby Schneider 1 2-2 4. Totals 9 8-14 26. Three-pointers 0 Total Fouls 20.
Morgan Saugstad 2 1-5 5, Kelsey Saugstad 1 2-4 4, Kenzie Beekman 4 2-2 10, Hannah Bennett 6 0-0 13, Kelli VanLeeuwe 2 3-4 7, Sarah Buysse 1 0-0 3, Callie Graff 0 2-4 2, Sarah Andersen 1 0-0 2, Sydney Griffin 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 10-20 50. Three-pointers 2 Rebounds 27 (M. Saugstad 7, VanLeeuwe 5) Assists 11 (K. Saugstad 4) Steals 16 (VanLeeuwe 5) Blocks 3 Total Fouls 16.
Halftime Score: Marshall 22, Pipestone 16.
"I think our start to the second half was extremely important," Westby said. "We got a basket the first possession and then we were able to trap and pressure, which led to a couple of turnovers and quick scores for us. That just expanded that lead and loosened things up a bit."
With the Arrows (6-8 overall, 1-5 SWC) reluctant to take outside shots, the Tigers (11-4, 6-0) used a strong defensive effort in the interior to hold down the Pipestone offense in the second half. They did so without the presence of senior post player Jessica Baker, who is out with a foot injury.
Westby was pleased with the job junior forward Sarah Andersen did in Baker's place. She covered Pipestone's 5-foot-10 center Kayla Stout for much of the second half, where Stout was limited to just four points. Stout led the Arrows with 12 points on the night, and no other Pipestone player scored more than four.
The Tigers' perimeter players also did well forcing turnovers. Guard Kelli VanLeeuwe finished the game with five steals to go with her seven points and five rebounds.
Westby went deep into his bench earlier than usual on Friday, calling upon players like freshman forwards Morgan Saugstad (five points, seven rebounds) and Callie Graff to play significant minutes.
"With Jessica out, those kids need to play more," Westby said. "Those kids certainly came in and held their own and that's what we're going to need them to do here."
Marshall needed to have a good second half Friday to build confidence for its big road matchup against No. 4-ranked Hill-Murray today at 4 p.m. The Tigers have struggled in close games recently, and Westby hopes his players can overcome those issues with hard work.
"We just want to be able to walk out of there and say we had an opportunity to win at some point and that we didn't get out-worked. I think that's going to be really important for us," Westby said.