By Dave Clark
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - There's one instance when a sports team doesn't want to be number one.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Sarah Free (32) takes a jump-shot over Kristen Stombaugh (20) of Crown during the first half Friday at MLC in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event, go to cu.nujournal.com
When your opponent's record stands at 0-23.
Not to worry, Martin Luther College Knights women's basketball fans. By starting off the second half with a 22-0 run, the Knights easily defeated the now 0-24 Crown College Storm 83-39.
The MLC bench contributed mightily to the effort, with every player suited up scoring and contributing 31 points and 24 of the Knights 63 rebounds.
"It really gives us a boost when we have players that can come off the bench and contribute," Knights coach Larry Czer said. "Everybody picked up in the second half and everybody scored. That was the type of half I expected us to play."
By liberally playing the bench, the regulars should also be more rested for today's regular season finale, when MLC hosts Northwestern at 3 p.m. The Knights dropped their first contest against Northwestern, 84-76.
It was bombs away to start the game against Crown, though, as MLC hit five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes, with Erica Babinec and Sarah Free both nailing two. After a short jumper by Babinec opened a 21-11 margin for the Knights, the pace of the game slowed considerably. While MLC did enlarge its margin to 30-12, the Storm scored seven in a row and entered halftime down just 36-25.
The Knights shook off their late first half lethargy with a fury to start the second half as they scored 22 points in a row in the first 4:30. Treys from Babinec, Free and Kadie Drake helped, along with four points off turnovers. Crown didn't score until six and a half minutes in the half, cutting the MLC lead to 58-27.
Halfway to the end of the game, the score stood at 65-28, with the Knights defense shutting down any attempts by the Storm to minimize the lead.
"That's the type of defense we're capable of playing," Czer said. "We needed to step up the intensity and we've been working hard on rebounding."
A hoop from Babinec doubled the score on Crown, 72-36, with 6:13 left, with Johannah Crass showing off the almost forgotten hook shot to make it 74-38. The Storm scored just one more point in the contest and end up being outrebounded by the Knights 63-30, 32-5 on the offensive boards.
Babinec was the leading scorer for the Knights with 25, Free added nine. Babinec also led MLC on defense with 11 rebounds. Crown's high scorer was Judy Mundt with 14.