MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Skylar Tsutsui (So./Northridge, Calif./Harvard Westlake) scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and the Knights set a school record for free-throw accuracy, but the Carleton College women’s basketball team absorbed a tough 58-55 setback at Augsburg College.
Coming off a huge victory over rival St. Olaf College on Monday, the Knights (5-17, 5-14 MIAC) got off to a slow start and trailed by as many as 12 in the first half before coming all the way back only to suffer a heartbreaking three-point loss.
“While we fell just short in tonight's match up with Augsburg, I feel like we're beginning to find ourselves,” said Carleton head coach Cassie Kosiba. “I am very pleased with our defensive effort and energy the past couple games. Offensively, we had a chance at the end, but just couldn't find the bottom of the net. I am pleased with our ability to adjust and execute as the game progresses, but we still need to work on the attention to detail early in games to get us off to a better start.”
Carleton started 3-of-13 from the field with 11 turnovers and was staring at a 23-11 deficit with five minutes left in the first half. Fortunately, Gabbi Stienstra (Fy./St. Paul, Minn./Minnehaha) drained a three pointer on the next possession, sparking the Knights on a 14-6 run over the remainder of the period.
The second half witnessed the two squads exchange mini-runs. After trailing 29-25 at the break, Carleton grabbed the lead early in the second half following a jumper by Megan Meads (Jr./Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater) and a Tsutsui three-pointer that gave the Knights a slim 30-29 advantage with 17:30 remaining in the contest.
Augsburg (8-14, 6-13 MIAC) responded with a 10-2 spurt over the next four minutes, making it 39-32 in favor of the home team before Ramey and Tsutsui combined on five straight points to again make it a one-possession game.
A 9-2 run for the Auggies was countered by a Tsutsui triple to ignite the Knights on an 11-2 spurt. That push was capped by a Ramey layup, knotting the score at 50-50 with 3:04 to play.
Augsburg scored four consecutive points, but Ramey answered with an old-fashioned three-point play. After an Auggie basket, Tsutsui converted a layup to bring the score to 56-55 with 21 seconds remaining.
Jolene Blood, who had 20 points to pace the home team, made a pair of free throws, and game-tying attempts by Tsutsui and Michele Arima (Fy./Valencia, Calif./West Ranch) were off the mark.
Ramey, Stienstra, and Emma Purfeerst (Jr./River Falls, Wis./River Falls) each finished with 10 points in support of Tsutsui.
One of Carleton’s keys to the repeated comebacks was a team-record performance at the free-throw line. The Knights went a perfect 18-of-18 at the charity stripe. Purfeerst was 8-of-8, Tsutsui 4-of-4, with Ramey, Stienstra, and Jessa Youso (Sr./Virginia, Minn.) each draining a pair. The only other time that Carleton has made each of its 10+ attempts in a game was a 12-of-12 showing in the 2011-12 season finale at St. Olaf.
Carleton travels to Macalester College for a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 9. The women start at 1 p.m. with the men slated to tip off at 3 p.m. Both games can be heard live on KDHL 920 AM in the Northfield/Faribault area and worldwide via Knights Online.