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Waldorf battles in second half, falls to Presentation

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

ABERDEEN, S.D. – A strong second half wasn’t enough for the Waldorf College women’s basketball team to overcome a tough shooting night in a 73-56 loss to Presentation College during Friday’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) matchup.

“It’s hard to play a good game when shots aren’t falling,” Waldorf coach Katie Schutjer said. “We had so many good looks that just would not fall for us.”

After being held to an 8-of-29 (27.6-percent) shooting clip and committing 10 first-half turnovers, it was an uphill climb as the Warriors (1-17, 0-10) found themselves trailing 43-24 at halftime.

“I felt in the first half that we really pressed when shots weren’t falling, which caused us to make mental mistakes and force a few bad shots,” Schutjer said.

Waldorf improved, shooting 10-of-32 (31.3) percent from the field and 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range while outscoring the Saints (6-8, 3-0) by a 32-30 margin in the second half.

“In the second half, we settled in a lot more and got some even better looks, just not enough fell for us,” Schutjer said. “The game is a lot easier when the ball goes through the net.”

Samantha Birkes led the Warriors with 17 points and three steals. The 5-foot-9 freshman guard from Sioux City knocked down 42.9 percent of her field-goal attempts, going 6-of-14 on the night and also grabbed four rebounds.

Waldorf sophomore Jessica Denholm provided 12 points and turned in career-highs with seven boards and six steals. Freshman Ameh Ogbemudia also reached double figures with 10 points on the night.

Freshman Kassidy Bunger added eight points and five rebounds for the Warriors, who received seven points and five boards from freshman Taylor Kurtz. Taylor Fricke rounded out Waldorf’s scoring effort as the freshman contributed two points.

Presentation’s Haley Froelich scored a game-high 24 points, shooting 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from the floor and 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) from downtown. Froehlich also handed out four assists.

Macy Toelle poured in 17 points and collected seven rebounds for the Saints. Sydney Larson turned in 12 points as Presentation snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Saints shot 41.5 percent in the win, hitting 27-of-65 attempts from the field and 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) shots behind the ac. Waldorf finished 18-of-61 (29.5 percent) from the floor and 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from the perimeter.

The Warriors converted on 15 of their 27 (55.6 percent) trips to the free-throw line and Presentation went 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) at the charity stripe.

Despite giving up 10 offensive rebounds, the Saints claimed a 41-36 advantage on the boards as Lee Lee Tomlinson pulled down game-high nine rebounds. Presentation College was limited to five offensive rebounds.

The Saints turned the ball over 20 times. Waldorf closed out the night with 19 turnovers and held a 17-16 edge in points off turnovers.

Presentation College used a strong start and led 21-8 at the end of the first quarter. After leading by 19 points at halftime, the Saints saw their deficit steadily reduced in the second half. The Warriors battled to within 13 points late, trailing 69-56 with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining. Presentation received a free throw from Toelle with 38 seconds remaining and Shelby Zimmel delivered a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to seal the win.

Waldorf resumes the season in eight days, taking on Grace University (4-16) in next Saturday’s 3 p.m. tipoff at Omaha, Nebraska. The Warriors look to fire up their offense to complete a season sweep over the Royals, who they defeated 50-45 at home in the first season meeting on Nov. 21.

“We will spend the next week working on finding a rhythm on the offensive end to get ready for Grace next weekend,” Schutjer said.