NEW ULM - Usually, when someone says a game "was closer than the score indicated," it's followed by blowing smoke and growing noses.
But the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds 51-41 victory over the St. Clair Cyclones Monday night really was closer than a 10-point win.
Each team lost leads and the final sixteen shots taken towards the basket were free throws, with the major damage to St. Clair coming from four turnovers in the final 2:30 and clutch free throws from the Greyhounds Anne Schwarz, Paige Pautzke and Kristin Mohr.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral’s Lisa Helget (41) shoots as Chelsea Schull of St. Clair defends during the first half Monday at CHS.
"This was a good game for us to have," Greyhounds coach Mary Dengerud said of her 5-2 team. "It was good to have a close game where we needed to know what to do at the end. It comes down to who's going to not turn the ball over and who's going to make the free throws."
Cathedral was sluggish to start the game, down 9-2 early due to a trio of three-point plays by the Cyclones and not getting their first field goal until seven minutes had passed.
A pair of 3s by Pautzke and Karlee Pfaff gave the Greyhounds a 10-9 lead midway through the half. Two layups late by Lisa Helget allowed Cathedral to take a 25-18 margin into the break.
Both teams played very tough defense in the opening half, with few shots inside by either team with the turnover rate standing at nine for the Greyhounds and eight for the Cyclones.
The early second half storyline for Cathedral was seven quick points from Schwarz and Pfaff that gave the Greyhounds a 32-21 lead two minutes into it. That's when St. Clair started feeding the ball to their center, Katelyn Weber.
Weber scored 13 of the Cyclones next 14 points underneath and from the free throw line and the Greyhounds had no answer for her. Add in a field goal from Chloe Hanson, and suddenly St. Clair was ahead 37-36 with eight minutes left to play.
Cathedral regained the lead behind two buckets from Pfaff, but with less than four minutes to play, the Greyhounds held a tenuous 41-39 lead. That's when the Cyclones turnovers and Cathedral free throws came in.
After Schwarz made it 43-39 by grabbing the rebound after a missed Greyhounds free throw, the remaining 10 points in the game came from 16 free throws. Schwarz scored half of them, helped by St. Clair blowing four possessions with turnovers.
Pfaff paced Cathedral with 15 points, with Schwarz just behind at 14 and Pautzke with 10.
The Greyhounds resume play at 7:30 p.m. tonight at home against Springfield.