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Eric Peterson, Published January 14 2012

Brandenburg's late basket lifts St. Thomas to win against Concordia

MOORHEAD – Concordia was inches away from an upset against the conference leader.

The Cobbers had a potential game-winning jumper rim out as time expired Saturday at Memorial Auditorium.

“It was one of those ‘pause’ while the ball was in the air and hope it drops,” Cobbers junior Tricia Sorensen said.

Moments earlier, St. Thomas guard Kelly Brandenburg hit a short jumper in the paint that lifted her team to a 49-48 victory in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball before 643 fans.

“The kids showed up and they played for 40 minutes straight, just tough,” Cobbers coach Jessica Rahman said. “We haven’t really had a game where we have played for 40 minutes tough. … We played our guts out.”

St. Thomas (12-1, 10-0 MIAC) remained unbeaten in the conference, winning its 12th consecutive game.

Concordia (8-5, 6-4) had its two-game winning streak stopped.

“We stayed with the No. 1 team in the conference,” said Sorensen, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds. “We had a chance to win at the end. We need to use it to learn from our mistakes and just keep fighting hard. We can’t let it get ourselves down.”

The Cobbers took a 48-45 lead after junior Emily Thesing sank two free throws with 50 seconds remaining in the second half. The Tommies countered with the game’s final four points. St. Thomas sophomore Taylor Young drained a 15-foot jumper to cut the Concordia lead to 48-47 with 30 seconds to play.

St. Thomas forced a jump ball on the ensuing Concordia possession to get the ball back with 17 seconds remaining. That set the stage for Brandenburg, who made a backdoor cut to get free along the baseline. The 5-foot-9 sophomore banked in the game-winning basket, off the edge of the paint, with 5 seconds to play. That gave the Tommies their only lead in the final seven minutes.

“I think she just made a tough shot,” Rahman said. “She kind of had to make a little bit of an adjustment in mid-air.”

After Brandenburg’s bucket, the Cobbers advanced the ball to near midcourt before calling a timeout to set up a final play with 2.6 seconds remaining.

Concordia inbounded the ball to Thesing, who raced the ball up the sideline before pulling up for a 17-foot shot on the right wing. Thesing’s shot caught the back rim and Sorensen tried to tip in the miss, but the final buzzer had already sounded.

“It did look good,” Sorensen said. “It just didn’t come out, but we trust her (Thesing) to make that shot.”

The Tommies shot 32 percent (9 of 26) from the field in the second half. Their 49 points tied a season-low point output.

“Our defense was intense,” Sorensen said. “We just gave up the last shot. It’s a tough one. It’s a tough loss.”

ST. THOMAS (12-1, 10-0 MIAC): Young 3-10 1-4 7, S. Smith 1-7 3-5 5, Weiers 3-10 3-4 10, Dienhart 2-4 0-0 5, Johnson 1-3 0-0 3, Ring 1-3 0-0 2, Brandenburg 4-7 4-4 12, Loesch 1-3 0-0 2, A. Smith 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 17-49 12-19 49.

CONCORDIA (8-5, 6-4): Sorensen 7-16 0-0 14, Lippert 2-9 2-4 6, Jossart 1-4 1-2 4,Vance 1-3 0-0 2, Thesing 3-12 2-2 8, Holland 1-3 2-2 4, Fisher 2-7 0-0 5, Benjamin 1-3 0-0 2, Walloch 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 19-59 8-12 48.

Half: CC 26, ST 24. 3-point goals: ST 3-11 (Young 0-1, S. Smith 0-1, Weiers 1-1, Dienhart 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Ring 0-2, Brandenburg 0-1), ST 2-14 (Sorensen 0-3, Jossart 1-2, Thesing 0-5, Holland 0-1, Fisher 1-3). Total fouls: ST 14, CC 17. Rebounds: ST 41 (S. Smith 12), CC 38 (Sorensen 12). Assists: ST 8 (S. Smith 3), CC 13 (Thesing 5). Steals: ST 5 (Dienhart 2), CC 5 (Thesing 2). Turnovers: ST 12 (Young 4), CC 9 (Thesing 4).