Superior has superior 4th quarter to down MLC

NEW ULM — The University of Wisconsin-Superior held off Martin Luther College 73-57 on Friday in an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball game.

With the victory, the Yellowjackets clinched the 2023-24 regular season conference championship.

This is the fifth UMAC regular season championship in UW-Superior’s history. The last time it won this honor was in the 2018-19 season.

The win also also means that the Yellowjackets are the No. 1 seed in the UMAC Tournament.

MLC entered the contest in fourth place in the UMAC with a conference record of 6-6 and an overall record of 11-12. UW-Superior had a 15-8 overall record and it was 12-1 in the conference.

The Knights were not fazed by that because they fought tooth-and-nail with the Yellowjackets for most of the game. The Yellowjackets didn’t pull away until the fourth quarter.

MLC employed a full-court press for most of the game. UW-Superior briefly used a press, but it switched to a zone defense later on.

The press created problems for the Yellowjackets. The Knights got 19 turnovers (15 of them were steals) that led to 12 points.

Scoring lulls during the second and the fourth quarters by MLC hurt its chances of securing a victory over the top team in the conference. UW-Superior went 12 for 23 from 3-point range.

“We had a lot of opportunities, but we just had the inability to finish tonight, and that’s tough,” MLC head coach Dan Gawrisch said.

He was still proud of the way the Knights played against the No. 1 team in the conference. He noted their trust in one another, communication with one another and the way all five worked together were amazing. He also said complimented his team’s execution, too.

The first quarter was a close see-saw affair with neither team able to gain any momentum. MLC’s Jordyn Heckendorf’s 3 at the buzzer gave it a 22-21 lead after the first period.

Early in the second period, UW-Superior put together a 7-0 run. Charlotte Ferstl scored 4 of the 7 points while Mykenzie Leccia’s 3 gave the Yellowjackets a 28-22 lead.

Heckendorf ended the run with a back which made it 28-24. Both teams continued to exchange baskets, but the Yellowjackets held a 37-33 halftime lead.

Heckendorf kept the Yellowjackets on their toes when she scored on back-to-back baskets which cut the deficit to 41-40. Leccia passed the ball to Elie Besonen, who canned a 3 for a 4-point cushion of 44-40. Superior held onto a 54-47 lead after three quarters.

The Yellowjackets started to pull away in the fourth quarter with an 18-0 run, which included four 3s. The Knights were unable to get any momentum after that, and the Yellowjackets took the game.

Heckendorf led MLC with 23 points, four assists, four steals and three rebounds. Emma Nelson added 17 points, eight rebounds and two steals.

MLC will host Northland at 3 p.m. on Saturday in its regular-season finale.


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