MARSHALL - In the first 7 minutes, 32 seconds of the first half the undefeated Marshall and Worthington girls' basketball teams went toe-to-toe, scrapping for every point of their 17-17 tie.
In the next 10:28, the scales completely tipped towards the Tigers.
Marshall went on a 41-7 run on its way to an 80-47 win to remain perfect on the season and in the Southwest Conference.
Photo by?Alex Oey
Marshall’s Callie Graff (24)?goes up for a layup while Worthington’s Ana Boever (10)?tries to defend during the first half of Thursday night’s Southwest Conference game in Marshall.
"They came in undefeated and they've been putting up a lot of points," said Marshall head coach Dan Westby. "We've been doing a good job so far of keeping teams in the 30s and 40s. They've been averaging 60-some and I thought that was a concern."
Marshall jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but a three-point play by Worthington's Lydia Kemper cut the lead down to one. The Trojans took a 7-6 lead and kept within six points of the Tigers (5-0 overall, 2-0 SWC) before a three-point play by Paige Gravenhof tied the game at 17-17 with 10:28 left in the half.
"We knew exactly what they were going to do. We knew they would press, they sub a lot of kids and keep them fresh," said Worthington head coach Eric Lindner. "In the games we've played, we've done that to other teams."
Ana Boever 4 3-4 12, Brooke Henning 0 1-2 1, Lydia Kemper 5 1-1 11, Allie Bruns 0 0-1 0, Paige Gravenhof 6 1-1 13, K.C. Riley 1 1-2 3, Makensie Carstensen 1 0-0 2, Whitney Coriolan 0 3-4 3, Apiew Alwal 0 2-2 2. Totals 16 12-17 47 3-Pointers 1 (Boever) Rebounds 32 (Henning 11, Boever 6) Assists 4 (Henning 2) Steals 13 (Boever 4, Kemper 4, Gravenhof 4) Blocks 4 Turnovers 31.
Sarah Buysse 3 0-0 7, Morgan Saugstad 2 0-0 5, Kelsey Saugstad 1 0-0 3, Kenzie Beekman 5 1-2 11, Steph Baker 0 0-1 0, Hannah Bennett 9 3-3 22, Jenna Christianson 2 0-1 5, Callie Graff 5 0-0 10, Lexi Saugstad 0 0-1 0, Sarah Andersen 5 5-6 15, Emma Doyle 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 9-14 80 3Pointers 5 ( Buysse, M. Saugstad, K. Saugstad, Bennett, Christianson) Rebounds 33 (Andersen 8, Beekman 5) Assists 21 (K. Saugstad 4, Baker 4, Bennett 4) Steals 21 (K. Saugstad 6, Bennett 4) Turnovers 16.
Halftime Score: Marshall 58, Worthington 24.
After the made free throw, Marshall found its rhythm and never looked back. Callie Graff started the scoring, followed by baskets from Kenzie Beekman, Hannah Bennett and Sarah Andersen, capped by a 3-pointer from Kelsey Saugstad. Just over three minutes after the game was tied, Marshall held a 34-17 lead.
"Once we got going, we kept going," said Bennett, who led the Tigers with 22 points. "We played some defense there, came out and went strong at it. We didn't let go."
Marshall would score four more, making it 38-17, before Worthington (5-1, 3-1) got back in the scoring column with a K.C. Riley free throw at 5:05.
"Once we got past that pressure I thought our kids did an nice job of finding the open player and we ended up getting some good looks," Westby said. "Especially in that stretch in the first half."
The Tigers continued to build their lead, allowing the Trojans only six more points in the half while scoring 18 of their own.
"We just slowed down and we weren't forcing things up," Beekman said. "We were looking for open players and it helped us."
Marshall took a 58-24 lead into the half knowing they couldn't let up at all.
"We talked about the fact that regardless of what defense we're in, whether we're pressing or not, we still have to get after people and follow our defensive rules, that sort of thing," Westby said. "That's extremely important, regardless of the score."
In the second half, Marshall held its lead constant while running a variety of players onto the court.
"We played all 17 kids," Westby said. "I thought Steph Baker came in and gave us some good minutes. Jenna Christianson gave us some good minutes. That was nice to see.
"We're going to need everybody. We got in a little foul trouble in the first half. Kenzie and Kelsey had to sit down for a while and we need to be able to count on a number of kids."
Worthington went on a small run near the end, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Marshall lead and the Tigers took the 80-47 win, but it doesn't get any easier.
"Next week we have Jackson (County Central) here on Tuesday and then we have Luverne here on Friday, two more conference games," Westby said. "Then we go to (Mankato) East on Saturday and that's a big section game for us.
"We have an important week, we just need to continue to work hard in practice."