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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s basketball fighting for momentum

<s another tough week for the Carleton women’s basketball team, as the Knights dropped two home games, falling to Saint Benedict on Saturday before coming up just short on an upset bid against conference co-leader Concordia Wednesday night. With the losses, Carleton falls to 3-11 in conference play (3-14 overall), tied for ninth in the 12-team MIAC. While they are not mathematically eliminated, the Knights will need to get hot fast for a shot at the sixth and final spot in the conference playoffs.

On Wednesday night, senior Annie Eckhoff tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double, but a furious comeback fell just short as the Knights fell 48-45 to the first-place Cobbers.

After trailing throughout the contest, Carleton mounted a strong rally late in the second half and had a chance to tie the game in its final seconds, but Ally Weaver’s buzzer-beating three-point attempt was blocked by Concordia’s Lindsey Schultz.

First-year Akemi Arzouman just missed her first double-double, recording nine points and 10 rebounds for the Knights. For Eckhoff, the 11 points matched her career-high—set at Saint Mary’s on Jan. 5, 2009—and the 11 boards were a new career best. Weaver chipped in 10 points for the Knights, while Megan Mileusnic added six points and eight rebounds.

The game was a defensive battle from the outset, as both teams shot under 30 percent from the floor. Despite a 4-of-21 (19 percent) performance in the first half, Carleton was able to stay in the game by sinking 9-of-13 free throws and holding the Cobbers (13-4, 12-2 MIAC) to just a 9-of-33 (27 percent) mark, as Concordia took a 25-17 lead into the intermission.

The Cobbers extended their lead to 31-19 on Erica Nord’s layup four minutes into the second half, but the Knights responded with 9-0 run over the next three minutes. In a game of momentum shifts, Concordia answered with a 10-5 run of its own to go ahead 41-33 on Emily Thesing’s rainmaker with 8:40 to play.

The Knights came doggedly back, however, scoring the next eight points on an Eckhoff layup and three-pointers by Weaver and Megan Erlandson.

With the game tied at 41-41 with 5:42 remaining, the Cobbers got back-to-back buckets from Schultz and Nord. Over the final 4:12, however, both teams went ice cold from the floor as neither made a field goal for the remainder of the contest.

With 20 seconds remaining, Weaver’s two free throws brought the Knights within three at 48-45. Carleton then quickly fouled Schultz, who missed the front end of the one-and-one. After Eckhoff grabbed the rebound, the Knights pushed the ball up and eventually found Weaver open in the right corner as the clock ran down, but Schultz came out of nowhere, emphatically swatting away the shot as well as Carleton’s bid for the upset. With 0.9 second remaining on the clock, the Knights managed to inbound the ball, but the pass deflected off the head of a Cobber and careened away as time expired.

Things were equally frustrating last weekend, as Mileusnic scored a season-high 14 points, but it was not enough as the team fell to visiting Saint Benedict 76-55 on Saturday.

After shooting at or below 30 percent in their previous two games, the Knights improved from the field, connecting on 20-of-48 attempts (41.7 percent), but the Blazers were even more efficient, at 43.6 percent (24-for-55), including a devastating 13 three-pointers. Saint Benedict was strong inside, too, out-rebounding Carleton 38-28, including 12 offensive boards.

Though the Knights fell behind early, they were able to keep the Blazers within reach and drew within four at 26-22 on Eckhoff’s old-fashioned three-point play with 5:11 remaining in the first half. But Saint Benedict outscored Carleton 26-9 over the next ten minutes, spanning the intermission, a burst from which Carleton would not recover. The Blazers lead ballooned to as much as 30 during the second half.

In addition to Mileusnic’s 14 points–which were one shy of her career high set as a sophomore on Feb. 20, 2007 vs. St. Thomas–the Knights received a 10-point effort from Arzouman and nine from Erlandson.

With the outcome all but decided, several Carleton first-years played with great energy late in the game, helping the Knights outscore the Blazers 10-1 over the final 4:09. Megan Bakken matched Mileusnic with a team-high five rebounds in just eight minutes of inspired play, and Cassie Mullen scored four points in four minutes down the stretch. Both figures were career-highs for the young Knights.

Although the Knights committed fewer turnovers (18) than their season average, Saint Benedict capitalized on Carleton’s mistakes, scoring 31 points off the miscues, compared to just nine points for the Knights off of 15 Blazer turnovers.

The Knights will look to turn things around tomorrow at home against Hamline, who at 6-8 currently lies in a three-way tie for the elusive sixth spot in the MIAC standings. With a win, Carleton could pull within two games of a playoff spot and perhaps gain some much-needed momentum as it tries to salvage a tough season.

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