MARSHALL - Kelsey Saugstad didn't need much time to get warmed up to start her senior season.
The veteran point guard of the Marshall girls' basketball team poured in a game-high 25 points, draining four 3-pointers, as her Tigers blew out Fairmont 64-43 Tuesday in Marshall in the season opener for both teams.
The Tigers held a 31-22 edge over the Cardinals at halftime, then broke the game open early in the second half with a 21-5 run that was fueled by the team's full-court press. Saugstad ended the run with seven points in less than a minute. Along with her 25 points, she also had four assists and three steals.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall senior Sarah Andersen, left, dribbles down the court as Fairmont’s Sierra Schultz runs beside her in the first half of Tuesday night’s game in Marshall. Andersen had six points and a team-high eight rebounds in the game.
"She had a stretch there in the second half where she hit back-to-back 3s, made a steal and hit Kenzie for a layup, then got another steal and scored herself. That was quite a sequence for her," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said of Saugstad's second-half spurt.
"The thing Kelsey needs to do, and she knows this, is to be a good teammate, and I really thought she did a good job of that tonight. She looked to pass and yet at the same time she took open shots when she needed to. It was a great performance by Kelsey."
Fairmont took an early 8-4 lead to open the game before Marshall went on a 12-0 run behind two 3-pointers from Kelsey Saugstad, one from Sarah Buysse and another from Morgan Saugstad within a span of just over three minutes. The hot shooting quickly got Fairmont out of a zone defense. The Cardinals never got closer than six points the rest of the half.
Kayla Lardy 4 1-1 9, Madison Geerdes 0 1-4 1, Ashten Atzenhoefer 0 1-2 1, Tracy Thiesse 1 0-0 3, Emily Wegener 1 0-0 2, Kristen Campe 1 0-0 2, Sierra Schrader 1 1-3 3, Sierra Schultz 7 0-0 14, Alex Christianson 3 2-2 8. Totals 18 6-12 43. 3-pointers 1 (Thiesse) Rebounds 35 (Lardy 8, Christianson 7) Assists 6 Steals 7 (Schultz 3) Blocks 2 Turnovers 29 Total Fouls 13.
Sarah Buysse 3 3-4 10, Morgan Saugstad 2 0-0 5, Haley Bennett 1 0-0 2, Kelsey Saugstad 9 3-5 25, Kenzie Beekman 2 2-2 6, Hannah Bennett 3 0-0 6, Callie Graff 1 0-2 2, Sarah Andersen 3 0-0 6, Emma Doyle 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 8-13 64. 3-pointers 6 (K. Saugstad 4, Buysse, M. Saugstad) Rebounds 28 (Andersen 8, Doyle 6) Assists 18 (Beekman 4, K. Saugstad 4) Steals 13 (Buysse 3, K. Saugstad 3, Beekman 3) Turnovers 8 Total Fouls 12.
Halftime Score: Marshall 31, Fairmont 22.
The two teams faced each other last year in the season opener, with Marshall winning 70-39. The Cardinals put up a better battle to open this season, thanks in part to a strong performance on the boards. Fairmont finished the game with a 35-28 rebounding edge. Six-foot-1 center Kayla Lardy had a lot to do with that, as she used her big frame to haul in a team-high eight rebounds to go with nine points.
Westby said that his team had some lapses on defense and struggled with Fairmont's size at times in the first half, which allowed the Cardinals to stay within striking distance.
"I think there were a lot of things that you oftentimes see in a first game," Westby said. "I thought we did a poor job in the first half of stopping their dribble drive and they were able to get to the basket. Then another thing I thought we did a poor job of was we didn't rebound very well. We gave up a lot of second-chance shots. But again, I think those are some things you often see in a first game."
But the game wasn't close for long.
Kelsey Saugstad converted on a three-point play to start the second half after receiving a pass off a steal from forward Kenzie Beekman. Saugstad then drilled a 3-pointer, which was quickly followed by a Beekman layup off a steal caused by the press. The stretch forced Fairmont to call a timeout just two minutes into the second half and down 39-24. The Tigers never let up from there.
Buysse joined Saugstad in double figures for Marshall, scoring 10 points to go with three steals. Beekman, Hannah Bennett and Sarah Andersen each scored six points for the Tigers, with Andersen adding a team-high eight boards.
Sierra Schultz led Fairmont in scoring with 14 points.
The Tigers had just four turnovers in the game, while they caused the Cardinals to turn the ball over 29 times.
Marshall is back on its home court Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for a non-conference game against Mankato West.