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Eric Peterson, Published February 23 2013

St. Thomas defeats Cobbers women in MIAC championship game

MOORHEAD – A scoreless eight minutes proved too much for top-seeded Concordia to overcome Saturday afternoon at Memorial Auditorium.

St. Thomas took advantage of that Cobbers cold stretch to score a 58-50 victory in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament championship.

“We locked it down on defense,” said St. Thomas senior Kellie Ring, who scored a team-high 16 points.

No. 2-seeded St. Thomas (22-5) earned an automatic bid for the NCAA Division III tournament with the victory. The Cobbers (21-6) will have to wait until Monday’s selection show, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., to see if they earn an at-large bid. Concordia was the MIAC regular-season champion.

“I think that our team has really worked hard and that regular-season championship is really a tough, grueling thing to win,” Cobbers head coach Jessica Rahman said. “I think they’ve really put themselves in a great position. Now you just hope that you’ve done enough.”

The Cobbers appeared in position to win the automatic bid on Saturday after junior center Alexandra Lippert sank two free throws. Those points gave Concordia a 45-41 lead with 11 minutes, 48 seconds remaining.

The St. Thomas defense dug in from that point, holding the Cobbers scoreless for the next eight-plus minutes. The Tommies scored 12 consecutive points during that game-changing stretch to surge into the lead for good.

“We never really got into a rhythm on offense,” said Cobbers senior Emily Thesing, who had a team-high 16 points. “Their defensive pressure was great and they caused us to get in a hurry and take shots out of our rhythm.”

St. Thomas sophomore Anna Smith capped the run with a 17-foot jumper from the right wing for a 53-45 lead with 3 minutes, 42 seconds remaining.

“I think we fought so hard,” Ring said. “We wanted it so bad. It just showed in the second half when we made our little run there.”

The Cobbers trimmed the St. Thomas lead to 53-50 after sophomore guard Alley Fisher banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:37 remaining. Concordia had a chance to tie the score at 53 more than a minute later, but Thesing’s 3-point attempt from the deep wing rimmed out.

The Tommies iced the game, sinking 5 of 6 fouls shots in the final 21 seconds. Ring sank two foul shots with 21 seconds remaining.

“I was excited to be in that position and just make it a two-possession game,” Ring said.

St. Thomas scored 17 of the game’s final 22 points. The Cobbers scored five points on two field goals in the final 11-plus minutes of the game. Concordia, which had an eight-point lead early in the second half, scored 18 points after halftime to tie a season low.

“They wear teams down with their physical defensive play and we got down in the shot clock a whole lot,” Rahman said of St. Thomas. “In the second half, we didn’t execute quite as well as we needed to at the end of the shot clock. I have to give them credit. Defensively, they have to be one of the top teams in the nation.”

ST. THOMAS (22-5): Young 4-12 4-5 13, Smith 2-7 5-6 10, Ring 5-11 3-4 16, Brandenburg 3-8 2-4 8, Dockter 2-5 2-4 6, Hicks 0-1 0-0 0, Emery 0-3 0-0 0, Hughes 0-1 0-1 0, Warner 2-3 0-0 5, Favilla 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-52 16-24 58.

CONCORDIA (21-6): Sorensen 4-13 0-0 8, Lippert 2-7 3-4 7, Jossart 1-6 2-2 5, Thesing 7-15 0-1 16, Fisher 3-4 4-4 11, Januschka 0-0 0-0 0, Jeske 1-2 0-0 3, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Walloch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-47 9-11 50.

Half: CC 32, UST 27. 3-point goals: UST 6-19 (Young 1-2, Smith 1-4, Ring 3-5, Dockter 0-1, Hicks 0-1, Emery 0-3, Hughes 0-1, Warner 1-1, Favilla 0-1), CC 5-15 (Sorensen 0-2, Jossart 1-3, Thesing 2-7, Fisher 1-1, Jeske 1-2). Total fouls: UST 13, CC 19. Rebounds: UST 32 (Smith 9), CC 36 (Sorensen 9, Lippert 9). Assists: UST 5 (Brandenburg 2, Dockter 2), CC 10 (Jossart 4). Steals: UST 14 (Smith 5), CC 4 (Thesing 2). Turnovers: UST 11 (Smith 3), CC 21 (Thesing 8). A-423.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com