One step closer: Run propels Marshall to 75-58 victory
Massive run in second half propels Marshall to 75-58 victory against Holy Angels in Class AAA semifinals
MINNEAPOLIS — The Marshall girls basketball team’s quest for perfection was on the verge of being burst during Tuesday’s Class AAA semifinal game against the Academy of Holy Angels, with MHS trailing by seven in the second half and in desperate need of a spark.
Then came the Marshall offense.
Down 45-38 with 13:22 left, the Tigers outscored the Stars with a 19-3 flurry over the next seven minutes and took down Holy Angels 75-58 to advance to the championship game at Target Center.
Marshall coach Dan Westby said they allowed Holy Angels to get too many second-chance opportunities in the first half but felt they did a better job of making the right adjustments in the second half.
“It was a really physical game both ways,” Westby said. “We felt like we gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half but we did a good job of cleaning that up in the second half. We also only gave up 24 points in the second half and got some shots to fall; Ashleigh Steinbach and Bri Simpson made some threes to end the first half that gave us some momentum.”
Holy Angels jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, as Marshall was held without a field goal for the first couple of minutes. A Corrin Naughton jumper would draw MHS to within three at 8-5 with 15:46 left in the first half before a pair of free throws from Jordyn Hilgemann and a Steinbach layup gave Marshall the lead at 11-10 with 13:40 to go. The two teams would trade points over the next few minutes, with a 3-pointer from Simpson and a couple of free throws by Abby Wendorff keeping Marshall in front before the Stars responded with five straight points to take a 28-21 lead with 3:35 left.
Both teams then caught fire from beyond the arc, with Simpson and Steinbach connecting for Marshall to make it 34-31 in favor of MHS, but Holy Angels would get a 3-point play with 0.5 seconds remaining to tie things up at 34 going into the locker rooms.
The second half saw the Stars get five quick points before Hilgemann was able to get Marshall on the board with a jumper followed by a layup to bring MHS to within one at 39-38 with 14:40 left. Holy Angels would go on a 6-0 run to take a 45-38 advantage roughly a minute later, but it was all Marshall from there.
Hilgemann and Emily Meier scored quickly to make it a two-point game at 45-43 before Hilgemann connected on a 3-pointer and a layup to give Marshall a 50-46 lead with 8:32 left. MHS wasn’t done there, though, as Meier got a layup to fall before Wendorff scored five quick points to push Marshall’s lead to 57-48 with under six minutes left and cap off a monumental offensive run.
Westby said the key during that run was turning up their defensive pressure and forcing Holy Angels to get away from their zone when guarding Marshall on offense.
“We got more out of our pressure in the second half than we did in the first. We changed some things up and went full-court man-to-man and were able to get some separation on offense,” Westby said. “They had to get a little more aggressive on defense and we were able to get them out of their zone, which I thought really helped us.”
Holy Angels would get as close as 10, but Hilgemann answered with a layup before Steinbach connected on two free throws to make it 63-49 with 2:40 left. From there, Marshall was able to seal the game at the free-throw line and move on to its first championship appearance since 2014-15.
Hilgemann led Marshall with 30 points – 25 of those coming in the second half – while Steinbach added 16 and Wendorff and Simpson each had 11. Meier led in rebounds with 15 while Wendorff led in assists with five. As a team, Marshall shot 36.7% (18 of 49) from the field, including connecting on seven 3-pointers while also making 32 of 42 from the free-throw line.
Defensively, Marshall held Holy Angels to 35.3% shooting (24 of 68), including just 4 of 20 from 3-point range and forced 27 turnovers.
Marshall (22-0) will face Becker in the championship on Friday at 6 p.m. at Target Center. The Bulldogs defeated Hill-Murray 84-51 in the semifinals. Going into the championship, Westby said they need to be able to come out ready right from the start.
“Becker’s an aggressive team so we’ll have to deal with that and get out to a much better start than the start of this game,” Westby said.