PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Marshall uses effective play on both ends of the floor to take out New Ulm, 73-41
MARSHALL — After falling to St. Peter in the Big South Showcase on Saturday, the Marshall girls basketball team looked to hit the reset button in its home opener against New Ulm. A strong offensive start, coupled with stifling defensive play throughout, helped Marshall take a 25-point halftime lead and never look back en route to a 73-41 victory on Tuesday.
Marshall coach Dan Westby said he was pleased with their overall effort, particularly on the defensive end and felt they did a good job of playing as a group on both ends of the floor.
“Our defensive effort those first eight or nine minutes of the game felt really solid. This is a good team we played, they’ve averaged 73 points in their first two games and at the same time, limiting teams in the 40s so it was a good effort by our kids,” Westby said. “Our press was effective as well and then our half-court defense we felt like we didn’t lose track of people and they’ve got a number of kids who can shoot, we rebounded and it was a great start.”
Both teams struggled to find their offensive groove in the opening minutes before a 3-pointer by Ashleigh Steinbach and a layup from Bri Simpson gave Marshall a 5-0 lead with 14:30 left. After New Ulm connected on a 3-pointer of its own, MHS took command of the pace, with back-to-back 3-pointers from Steinbach and Lexie Bednarek making it 14-3 with 11:39 left before a layup by Leah Jones pushed the advantage to 21-3 at the midway mark of the first half.
Westby said their key offensively, especially during that stretch, was their ability to break New Ulm’s defensive pressure and get some open looks in transition as well as balance the floor in the half-court.
“One of the concerns we had going in was breaking their pressure. We felt like we did a good job of that and were able to get some easy looks down at the other end,” Westby said. “Our half-court offense was pretty effective and when they went to a zone, it felt like we were ready for that and handled that well.”
The Eagles would get a layup with 7:20 left in the half to end a 19-0 run by Marshall and a nearly seven-minute scoreless streak by New Ulm, but MHS quickly answered with a layup by Steinbach to make it 30-5 with 6:10 to go. The Eagles then went on a small run over the next couple of minutes, but Marshall continued to create separation, as a 3-point play by Steinbach extended the advantage to 38-16 with 1:40 left before Bednarek connected on a 3-pointer to give MHS a 46-21 lead going into the locker rooms.
The two teams traded points to start the second half, but Marshall maintained its distance, as a layup by Megan Wegner and a 3-pointer by Steinbach made it 57-25 with 12:30 left before a triple by Bednarek gave MHS a 30-point advantage at 60-30 a minute later. More back and forth play ensued, but Marshall kept pushing its lead, with a layup by Brooke Andries making it 68-34 with 6:30 left en route to the 73-41 final.
Steinbach led Marshall with 20 points while Bednarek added 17 and Wegner and Jones each had nine. Steinbach and Jones led in rebounds with six each while Simpson led in assists with eight. As a team, Marshall shot 45% (27 of 60) from the field, including connecting on 13 3-pointers (13 of 34).
Marshall (2-1) will face Willmar at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. Westby said they need to build from this win and come out ready to go against a tough Willmar team.
“We’ve got to build on this. We were so disappointed with our effort on Saturday against St. Peter, so it was good to see us come out here with some energy because we didn’t do that on Saturday,” Westby said. “Our early season schedule is really difficult, we host Willmar on Saturday and that’s going to be another tough one, so we’re going to have to be ready to go again.”
Marshall 73, New Ulm 41
New Ulm 21 20 – 41
Marshall 46 27 – 73
Scoring: Marshall (Steinbach 7-12, 0-0 20; Bednarek 6-11, 0-0 17; Wegner 4-8, 0-0 9; Jones 3-7, 3-4 9; Simpson 3-8, 1-1 7; Andries 1-3, 2-4 4; Wendorff 2-3, 0-0 4; Estrada 1-3, 0-0 3).
Rebounds: Marshall 39 (Steinbach, Jones 6; Wherry 5; Bednarek, Simpson, Wegner 4).
Assists: Marshall 23 (Simpson 8; Steinbach 6).
Steals: Marshall 4 (Jones 2; Wherry, Steinbach 1).