Thanks to another late scoring surge, the Carleton College women’s basketball team wrapped up the 2019-20 season with a 67-61 victory at St. Catherine University. Although the Knights will miss the MIAC playoffs by virtue of a point-system tiebreaker, the win represents a high point for the program over the past decade. This was the Carleton’s fifth consecutive triumph and the team’s 12th of the season, giving the Knights their highest overall and conference win total since the 2007-08 campaign.
The Knights (12-13, 9-11 MIAC) entered this season with an interim head coach and were picked to finish last in the 12-team Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Head coach Tammy Metcalf-Filzen had the interim tag removed from her title in early January, and Carleton concluded the campaign in a tie for sixth place.
“This has been such a fun season,” said Metcalf-Filzen. “I am so proud of this team and the way they battled every game. To finish 7-2 down the stretch is a testament to our senior leadership and the buy in to everything we asked the players to do. They have much to celebrate, and I have a lot to be thankful for. Well done Knights!”
Seniors Katie Chavez (Westminster, Colo./Holy Family) and Sam Cooke (St. Louis, Mo./Incarnate Word Academy) along with sophomore Jill Yanai (Glendale, Calif./Glendale) led the offensive attack on Saturday.
In her final collegiate game, Chavez scored a game-high 22 points, the eighth time this season and the 13th time in her career that she tallied least 20 points. The senior was 5-of-6 from 3-point range and hit 7-of-8 free throws, increasing her MIAC-leading success rate to 85.25 percent.
Cooke added 12 points, including 6-of-6 on free throws, and wrapped up the year shooting 85.19 percent at the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Yanai contributed her fifth double-double of the season from her point-guard position, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds after going 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Carleton played from in front for less than four minutes in this contest. The Knights briefly led on two occasions in the second quarter but faced a 49-40 deficit with 1:20 left in the third period. From that point forward, Carleton outscored the Wildcats (12-13, 9-11 MIAC) by a 27-12 margin over the remainder of the game.
Down 56-51 with 4:19 remaining in the contest, Yanai and Chavez hit back-to-back triples to give Carleton its first lead of the second half at 57-56 with 3:09 still to play.
The Knights defense forced two late turnovers and Carleton went 10-of-12 from the charity stripe over the remaining two-plus minutes of the game to secure the victory. This was the third straight game in which Carleton erased a fourth-quarter deficit to earn the win.
The Knights’ 12-13 record represents their best finish since the 2007-08 season, when they finished 19-10. Carleton concluded this campaign tied with St. Kate’s and Concordia for sixth in the MIAC at 9-11 in conference action. However, despite Saturday’s road victory over the Wildcats, the Knights lost a tiebreaker with St. Catherine’s for the final playoff spot.
St. Kate’s was led by a pair of players in double figures as Danica Cambrice and Emma Nelson each scored 12 for the playoff-bound Wildcats.
Chavez ends her season as the Knights’ top scorer, with 374 points this year, and her career as the seventh-highest average scorer in Carleton history at 13.22 points per game. She made 56 three-pointers during the 2019-20 campaign and 123 over her three seasons with the Knights. Both of those figures rank fourth-best in program history.
Cooke wrapped up her career with 366 field goals made, the 13th most in Carleton history. Her 12.7 points per game this season were second only to Chavez.
Senior Erica Ellefson (Sr./Hutchinson, Minn./Hutchinson) appeared in 96 career games for the Knights and dished out a pair of crucial second-half assists in this contest.