ST. JOSEPH, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Morris women’s basketball team found itself in a big first-half hole but never quit working and closed the gap significantly on Friday night before falling to the College of Saint Benedict, 64-57. The loss sends the Cougars to 1-1 on the season.
The biggest lead of the night for Minnesota Morris came in the opening two minutes as Jay Kwateh supplied a pair of baskets as part of a 6-1 opening stretch. An 8-0 run later in the quarter by the Bennies helped the home side take the lead and extend it to 22-15 by the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a rough one for UMN Morris as the team went just 3-of-14 from the field. The Saint Benedict lead was still seven with under eight minutes until halftime, but the Bennies then went on a 9-0 run and it took a pair of last-second free throws from Haley Wollschlager to bring the deficit back under 20 points. The Cougars went to the break trailing, 42-24.
Minnesota Morris came out in the second half with a renewed defensive effort and Saint Benedict failed to score for more than four minutes to start the third quarter. Jadyn Sondrol, Kwateh, and Lexus Eagle Chasing all had two points in that span, encompassing a 6-0 run that brought the Cougars back within 12 at 42-30. In the final minute of the third, Eagle Chasing knocked down a three that made it a nine-point game, 48-39, before Saint Benedict scored on a layup late in the frame to go back up by double-digits, 50-39, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bennies flew out of the gates in the final 10 minutes, starting out with a 9-2 run that took the lead back up to 18 points, 59-41. Though facing a tough climb, Minnesota Morris kept chipping away at Saint Benedict’s advantage, getting it back to eight points, 63-55, with a minute to play. Kwateh scored the last bucket of the contest, but the Cougars were short on time and the Bennies held on for the seven-point victory.
Sondrol led UMN Morris in scoring on the night, finishing with 14. Ella Van Kempen finished with 11 points and tied Malory Anderson for the team lead in rebounds with seven. Eagle Chasing ended with 10 points, while Kwateh and Wollschlager each chipped in eight.
The Cougars conclude the St. Ben’s Tipoff Tournament with a 1 p.m. matchup tomorrow in St. Joseph against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.