NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Sometimes it’s all about momentum.
That certainly proved to be the case in tonight’s rivalry game between the Carleton College women’s basketball team and their cross-town foes from St. Olaf College. Sophomore Skylar Tsutsui (Northridge, Calif./Harvard Westlake) scored a game-high 18 points as the Knights pulled away from the Oles for a 66-47 triumph.
“We knew this rivalry game would be a battle from start to finish. It was our goal to be the first team to make a run and the last,” said head coach Cassie Kosiba.
When these squads met back in January, St. Olaf used a big first-half run to pull away for a 19-point win, 62-43. This time, it was Carleton that took control early and went on to enjoy a 19-point victory.
The Knights (5-16, 5-13 MIAC) built an early 20-8 advantage, thanks to stellar defense—including seven steals—and a balanced offensive attack that saw seven different players tally points during this early run. St. Olaf (11-10, 9-9 MIAC) managed to rally, pulling together 12 unanswered points to even the score at 20-20 with less than two minutes left in the period.
Tsutsui, the Knights’ leading scorer this season, shrugged off the pressure of the situation and dropped in a triple from long range with 1:39 still to play. Moments later, Jessa Youso (Sr./Virginia, Minn./Virginia) grabbed a steal and put the ball into the hands of Jenny Ramey (Jr./Cottage Grove, Minn./New Life Academy), who also knocked down a three-pointer. Tsutsui then put the finishing touch on the run with a fastbreak layup, giving Carleton a 28-20 advantage heading into the break. The Knights lead would get no smaller the rest of the way.
In addition to their offensive production in the first half, the Knights stayed active on defense as well, limiting the Oles to just 7-of-26 shooting from the field (26.9 percent) and recording 11 steals.
Just as they did to open the game, the Knights went on another big run to start the second half. Tsutsui’s triple sparked a 17-9 spurt that doubled the hosts’ advantage, giving Carleton a comfortable 45-29 edge with 11:50 left.
From there the Knights put the Oles on ice sinking 13-of-18 free throws the rest of the way.
The Knights shot 48 percent in the second half, while once again holding St. Olaf below 27 percent.
“This was a great team win tonight,” said Kosiba, “We set out to make a statement defensively from the tip and did just that. We had patience on the offensive end and shared the ball extremely well. I'm very proud of the effort from all tonight.”
Carleton recorded 19 assists, the second-most posted by the team in a game this season. Ramey had six of those distributions in addition to scoring nine points and collecting three steals.
Youso matched her season high with 10 points, which came in the season’s first meeting between these squads. Emma Purfeerst (Jr./River Falls, Wis./River Falls) scored nine points and crashed the boards, coming up with six rebounds for Carleton.
St. Olaf’s top performer was Mackenzie Wolter, who led her team in scoring with 15 points. Kim Cerjan contributed 10 points to the effort.
Carleton next travels to Minneapolis to take on Augsburg College on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. Live audio will be available on KDHL 920 AM and Knights Online.