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Clarke races past Waldorf

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

DUBUQUE – Clarke University came ready to play in its final home game of the season to hand the Waldorf College women’s basketball team a 90-44 loss on Saturday.
“Being their Senior Day, their whole team played extremely motivated,” Waldorf coach Katie Schutjer said. “They had players make big plays and hit big shots.”
The Crusaders (16-11) have won 10 of their last 12 contests, but had their work cut out for them early as they held a 19-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We started the game great,” Schutjer said. “We ran the floor, got a couple steals and transition points.”
Turning the tide in the second quarter, Clarke limited the Warriors (2-21) to just seven points. Nine first-half fouls and 10 turnovers hampered Waldorf as the Crusaders raced to a 51-20 halftime advantage.
“We got in foul trouble, lost our rhythm and Clarke got on a roll,” Schutjer said.
Clarke outscored the Warriors 39-24 in the second half to seal the win.
Waldorf locked down its defensive assignments. However, the Crusaders outscored the Warriors 36-16 in the paint and were also dialed in from the perimeter.
Clarke shot 47.4 percent, going 37-of-78 from the field and 8-of-18 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range. The Crusaders, who out-rebounded the Warriors by a 50-34 margin, came away with a 21-6 advantage in second-chance points behind 16 offensive boards.
“We did a good job of executing our defensive plan against their big forwards, but they had players step up and knock down outside shots and they got several transition points,” Schutjer said. “We also gave them several second-chance opportunities.”
Waldorf turned in a 30-percent shooting effort, finishing 18-of-60 from the floor and 4-of-25 (16 percent) behind the arc. Clarke converted on 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) attempts at the free-throw line while the Warriors finished 4-of-5 (80 percent).
The Crusaders turned the ball over just nine times and racked up 15 steals while forcing Waldorf to commit 20 turnovers. Clarke capitalized, producing a 22-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Samantha Birkes led the Warriors with 11 points, seven rebounds and two assists in the loss. The 5-foot-9 freshman guard from Sioux City shot 41.7 percent, knocking down 5-of-12 attempts from the field.
Waldorf freshman Ameh Ogbemudia dropped in 10 points, pulled down six boards and collected two steals. Freshmen Kassidy Bunger and Taylor Fricke added seven points apiece. Sophomore Jessica Denholm scored five points while freshman Meriel Leavy finished with four points and five rebounds. Bunger also came away with two steals.
Breland Prochaska scored a game-high 14 points to lead the Crusaders in a balanced attack. Prochaska dished out three assists and turned in three steals.
Clarke’s Kelsey Ernst provided 13 points, eight rebounds, two steals and blocked two shots. Katelyn Hoppman and Ashley Werner tallied 12 points each. Jayla Penney also reached double figures, chipping in 11 points. Jade Ramirez contributed eight points and two steals.
Molly Kleppin grabbed a team-high nine boards for the Crusaders. Werner handed out a game-high four assists and had two blocks, helping Clarke total five blocks in the win. Hoppman secured six rebounds.
Playing shorthanded, the Warriors were forced to rely on just seven players. Even though it created a disadvantage, Waldorf displayed promise throughout stages of the game.
“We showed some sparks of growth and change, which was good to see,” Schutjer said. “Being down with sickness and injury, those sparks weren’t enough.”
The Warriors, who are 0-10 in the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) standings, close out conference play on Wednesday against Viterbo University (5-21, 1-7) in a 5:30 p.m. matchup at La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Waldorf concludes the regular season next Saturday, hosting College of the Ozarks (22-3) at 1 p.m. The Lady Bobcats are ranked No. 4 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll.