Saints go back-to-back vs. Tigers

ST. PETER — Marshall was unable to snap its head-to-head losing streak against St. Peter in the Big South Conference championship on Tuesday night as the No. 4 Saints defeated the No. 6 Tigers 67-49.

The Saints and Tigers have now met in four consecutive conference championship games with the Saints winning each of the last two and the Tigers claiming the two before that. St. Peter also defeated Marshall in each of the team’s two regular-season matches this year, though the Tigers did defeat St. Peter in last season’s Section 2AAA championship game.

Marshall trailed 31-25 at halftime but a free throw from Reese Drake and a 3-pointer from Taleigha Bigler quickly made it a one-possession game. From there, however, the Saints quickly pulled away.

St. Peter responded to Bigler’s 3 with 7 unanswered points before Reese Graven finally ended the run with a layup. Still, the Saints came back and scored 12 of the next 14 points to take complete control of the game. They led by as many as 21 points in the lopsided win.

Bigler led Marshall in scoring with 16 points on 3 of 9 shooting from beyond the arc. Reese Drake was the only other Tiger in double figures, adding another 12 points.

For the Saints, Rhyan Holmgren led the way with 24 points while Madison Kamm and Kylie Southworth each added another 14 points. Southworth shot 4 of 8 from 3-point range, making her the only player other than Bigler with multiple makes from beyond the arc.

Morgan Bjella anchored the Tigers defensively to start the game. She came up with a block in the paint on the first possession of the game and, after Reese Graven scored the game’s opening points with a layup, Bjella came up with a ferocious block from behind to prevent a tying bucket.

With Bigler defending the inbounder, Marshall forced a St. Peter five-second violation to get the ball back. After nearly two scoreless minutes, however, St. Peter tied the game up with a layup. Anika Southworth came up with a steal but Bjella again came up with her third block of the game to prevent the go-ahead bucket for the Saints.

From there, however, the Saints took over with a 7-0 run to take the lead. Halla Casavan interrupted the run with a bucket with 12:40 to play and Reese Drake jumped a passing lane to come up with a steal and a transition layup to bring Marshall back within a point. Yet, St. Peter quickly answered with a layup of their own. Marshall wasn’t able to come within one possession for the remainder of the half and trailed by as many as 10 points before a pair of free throws and a Reese Drake putback layup cut the deficit to 6 points at halftime.

St. Peter finished with a 30-23 advantage on the glass. Their 26 defensive rebounds eclipsed Marshall’s total rebounds. Bigler, Graven, Drake and Paige Gillingham led Marshall on the glass with four rebounds each while Kamm and Holmgren led St. Peter with 10 and seven boards respectively.

Gillingham’s three assists trailed only Holmgren’s four in the game. Gillingham also tied Drake with two steals, trailing only Bigler and Kylie Southworth’s three.

Marshall falls to 19-6 with the loss while St. Peter improves to 24-1 and will carry a 17-game win streak into its final regular-season game against No. 7 Byron on Thursday. Marshall, meanwhile, will host Class AA No. 2 Minnehaha Academy for its final regular-season game on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. From there, they’ll await seeding for the Section 2AAA tournament, which will begin on Wednesday. The top overall seed will receive a first-round bye while the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds will each host their quarterfinal matchups.


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