NEW ULM The Martin Luther College women's basketball team knew it had to contain Northwestern's 3-point shooting in order to have a chance in the game on Saturday.
The Knights did a good job of that as the Eagles only shot 30 percent from behind the arc in the game which helped MLC win 69-60 in a pivotal Upper Midwest Athletic Conference game Saturday.
The Knights implemented a match-up zone that seemed to give the Eagles problems at times, especially in the first half.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Leah Nass drives to the basket as Courtney Cunard (34) of Northwestern defends on the play during the first half Saturday at MLC in New Ulm.
"They're an excellent 3-point shooting team," Knights Coach Larry Czer said. "I thought we did an excellent job of taking them out of what they like to do and we caused some turnovers out of it."
The Knights forced the Eagles to commit 19 turnovers in the game in large part because of the matchup zone, but also, according to Czer, because of just plain effort.
"I think one of the keys tonight, and the whole season for us, has just been our girls effort on the defensive end," he said.
In the first half, the Knights' defense helped caused the Eagles to only make five 3-point baskets out of the 17 they took. Hannah Hackbarth made a 3-pointer with less than five seconds left to help the Knights go up seven at halftime.
The start of the second half did not have a lot of scoring either way as both teams came out and played a little sloppy.
The Knights then pulled away a little bit when Leah Nass and Rebecca Engelbrecht both got put-back layups on back-to-back possessions to put the Knights up 50-42.
After a Northwestern timeout, Mollie Sir made one of her five 3-pointers to pull the Knights lead down to five.
But, that was the closest the Eagles got as the Knights went 6-for-6 from the free throw stripe down the stretch to close out the game.
Alex Anthon led the push late scoring 16 second half points and ended the game with a team-high 21 points. Hackbarth ended the game with 14 points for MLC. Brittany Gossen also contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
MLC might see Northwestern again shortly as the Knights and Eagles might be the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the UMAC post-season tourney.
"We will see them soon, probably at their place," Czer said. "We have a balanced scoring team and we play hard on defense and those things will help us come tournament time.
MLC (10-13, 8-4) will end the regular season next weekend at Crown Friday night and at Minnesota-Morris on Saturday afternoon.