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College women’s basketball: Olson, UMD shake off rough shooting night to dispatch Mavericks

Bulldogs come out on top in a matchup of two of the top teams in the NSIC.

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Brooke Olson (24) of Minnesota Duluth shoots the ball against Carah Drees (35) of Minnesota State Mankato at Romano Gymnasium on Friday Jan., 7, 2022, in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
CLINT AUSTIN

DULUTH — A lot of the shots weren’t falling for Brooke Olson through three quarters Friday against Minnesota State-Mankato, but the Minnesota Duluth senior rarely showed any emotion, much less any frustration.

She just stayed the course, steady as always, and almost as predictable, came up big when the Bulldogs needed her most.

Olson, an All-American forward from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, scored seven of her team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter as UMD held off the Mavericks for a 61-52 victory before 340 at Romano Gym in a women’s basketball game pitting two of the top teams in the NSIC.

“I feel bad for Brooke at times,” UMD coach Mandy Pearson said, laughing. “She’s very talented, so she gets beat up a lot. People are really physical with her, but she just battles and finds ways to slow the game down and be successful. Every game … every game they go at her. She found a way to work through some things.”

It wasn’t a pretty shooting night for the Bulldogs and that certainly includes Olson.

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UMD (9-4 overall, 7-2 NSIC) shot just 36.8% (25 of 68) for the game, including only 8.7% (2 of 23) from 3-point range, but still found a way to win.

“When you’re having one of those nights, I think you all do, we just lean on each other as teammates,” Olson said. “I knew that everyone else was going to do their job, and if I wasn’t hitting, I’m not the entire offense. It takes all 15 or 16 of us to get out there and to execute our roles. I’m just really happy we were able to put out the win tonight.”

Fellow post player Sarah Grow added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs and Taytum Rhoades provided a spark off the bench with 12 points and eight rebounds.

“The way Minnesota State plays is very different from anybody else in our league,” Pearson said. “They get into you, they pressure you, they’re very physical, but I was really, really happy with how we took care of the ball today.”

Teams were averaging 25.5 turnovers per game against the press-heavy Mavericks but UMD only had 12.

“We took care of the ball and were really patient,” Pearson said. “We had opportunities to take over the game, but we missed some bunnies, and we missed some open shots, but I thought our players did a really good job of getting some open looks against a real scrappy team.”

UMD jumped out to a seemingly commanding 15-4 lead after the first quarter against a Mavericks team that came in averaging 84.4 points per game. Minnesota State turned on the jets in the second quarter, outscoring UMD 26-13 to take a 30-28 halftime lead.

Pearson couldn’t recall a time UMD gave up 26 points in a quarter over the past couple seasons.

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“We weren’t making some shots in the second quarter and I could see us getting a little bit frustrated and that impacted us defensively just a little bit, and they hit shots,” Pearson said. “Basketball is a game of runs, and that’s a team that can go on some big-big runs.”

Senior guard Maddy Olson scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Mavericks (11-2, 7-2), with 10 of those coming in the second quarter, while sophomore guard Joey Batt added 13 points and four assists.

“When the ball doesn’t go in, it starts to tighten you up, but we settled down and got into a flow in the second quarter,” Mavericks coach Emilee Thiesse said. “We had much better pace and got some good stops, which led to better play on the offensive end.”

Minnesota State-Mankato, which had to cancel its men’s game with UMD due to COVID-19 protocols, was without two women’s starters for the same reason.

The game stayed close until the very end.

Olson finished 9-for-22 shooting for the game, including 0-for-5 3-point shooting, but in the fourth quarter she was 3-for-5 shooting. She had five points in the final two minutes, including a pair of layups and a free throw.

“We were really in that game. It just came down to a couple plays down the stretch,” Thiesse said. “When you have a fantastic player like Brooke Olson, that’s a credit to her. She stepped up big for her team when they needed her. A couple big possessions that really sealed the game.”

  • UMD will host Concordia-St. Paul (10-3, 6-3) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Romano Gym in another matchup pitting top NSIC teams.

“People have been getting really physical with me lately, but coach has done a really good job at preparing me at practice and my teammates pushing me at practice every single day,” Olson said. “You have to keep a level head and find other ways to be impactful, and the way my teammates have helped me has been awesome.
“Concordia is always a battle, and they’re small and quick, a lot like Mankato, so I expect a similar game tomorrow.”

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Minnesota State-Mankato 4-26-10-12—52
Minnesota Duluth 15-13-15-18—61
Minnesota State-Mankato — Emily Russo 2, Joey Batt 13, Maddy Olson 23, Destinee Bursch 5, Molly Ihle 3, Carah Drees 6. Totals 20 8-11 52.
3-point goals — Olson 2, Bursch, Ihle.
Minnesota Duluth — Brooke Olson 20, Sarah Grow 12, Ann Simonet 3, Maesyn Thiesen 4, Taytum Rhoades 12, Madelyn Granica 4, Kaylee Nelson 5, Ella Gilbertson 1. Totals 25 9-12 61.
3-point goals — Simonet, Nelson.

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