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The Scarlet & Black

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Women’s Basketball tops Ripon in two overtimes, Wartburg in one

By Stephen Gruber-Miller

Last weekend was a big one for the Grinnell women’s basketball team. The Pioneers played games Saturday and Sunday against Ripon and Wartburg and won both of them in overtime, with the first game going to two extra periods of play.

Ripon was Grinnell’s second conference win this year after defeating Knox 78-75. Tough defenses by both teams kept the score close all game.

“Ripon is very much like us in that they play really incredible defense,” head coach Kate Gluckman said. In the end, Grinnell won 57-56.

Michelle Briggs shoots a jump shot against Ripon on December 1 in Darby Gymnasium.

“I wasn’t at all surprised that we went into overtime,” Gluckman said.

She credits the team’s perseverance and great performances by Michelle Briggs ’13 and Rebecca Degroot ’14 for leading the team to eventual victory.

“We had some kids who were really able to hit some big shots when we needed them most,” she said.

Anne Boldt ’16 agreed that the game was “intense.”

“It made the win much more gratifying because we knew we had worked so hard in the overtimes. It did add a lot of pressure though,” she said.

Gluckman said she was glad they could pull off a win for the home audience.

The non-conference Wartburg game on Sunday was very different. Since it wasn’t a conference game, Gluckman said they tried to play as many people as possible in the first half.

Strong defense in the first half allowed the Pioneers keep the game close and end the half only seven points behind. Then they decided to change their strategy for the second half.

“We sort of narrowed our substitution pattern and tried to go for it,” Gluckman said.

Boldt noted that Sunday’s game was a tale of two halves.

“We only had 11 points going into halftime and ended up with 56, I think, so it was definitely a different half for us,” she said.

Once again, the team delivered strong shots to make a comeback. Cristal Coleman ’15 made a 3 pointer with three seconds on the clock that put the game into overtime. Briggs delivered the winning jump shot to win 56-55.

Gluckman mentioned that the pace of the Wartburg game was much faster than against Ripon and the team was not expecting to go into overtime again. She explained that they learned to be careful about playing in close games after giving up a layup against Ripon when they were only two points ahead.

“We actually learned a little bit about overtime situations,” she said.

Such a large comeback in the second half is impressive.

“We were all really excited, especially after having such a big win the night before,” Boldt said.

The Pioneers have had a rigorous schedule of late, playing three games in four days. They played last year’s conference champion, Monmouth, on Tuesday and lost 57-45. Even so, they have started the season strong.

Gluckman noted that despite Grinnell’s loss, they were able to hold Monmouth to 30 points below their scoring average. She said that they played better against Monmouth than either of their first two games, calling the game “a loss, but a step forward for our team.”

A combination of strong defense and big scoring performances from Degroot, Boldt, Coleman and Briggs means Grinnell will continue to have close games this season.

“We have students who can come in and hit big shots,” Gluckman said. “These are players who can finish in crunch time.”

Both Gluckman and Boldt are confident in this season.

“I think we’ll be very successful this season because we have great team chemistry and just a lot of talent that works well together,” Boldt said.

If the beginning of their season is any indication, the Pioneers are on their way to performing better than they have in recent years.

“Our goal is to be in the Midwest Conference Tournament and so we know that every single conference game is going to help us get there,” Gluckman said.

To qualify for the tournament, Grinnell must be in the top four teams in the conference.

Gluckman noted that there will be strong challengers in the conference this year such as Illinois College, St. Norbert, and Cornell, but is confident that the team’s mix of talented first years and experienced upperclassmen will enable them to succeed.

Another challenge the team faces is adjusting their roster after Degroot suffered a concussion during the Ripon game. She has missed the last few games and Gluckman is unsure when she will be able to play again.

The Pioneer’s next game is Saturday, December 8 against St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin at 1:00 p.m.

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