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Under Pressure

Marshall's press generates 29 turnovers in win over Sioux Falls Roosevelt

Photo by Jake McNeill: Marshall forward Paige Gillingham (20) attempts a layup in the first half of a girls basketball game against Sioux Falls Roosevelt in Marshall on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers defeated the Rough Riders 65-42.

MARSHALL — The No. 6 Marshall girls basketball team’s defensive press was too much for Sioux Falls Roosevelt to overcome on Saturday afternoon as turnovers paved the way for a 65-42 win for the Tigers.

The Tigers forced 29 Roosevelt turnovers while coughing it up just eight times as a team. Reese Drake and Taleigha Bigler led the way with nine and six steals respectively while Paige Gillingham added another four.

After a tight first 10 minutes, the Tigers started to pull away with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

Marshall held a 16-14 lead when Paige Gillingham made a pair of key baskets on consecutive possessions, the first of which was a transition layup after a Reese Drake steal and the latter of which was a 3-pointer from the wing to give Marshall a 7-point lead.

Brooklyn Koll got the Rough Riders back on the board with a layup but a Morgan Bjella putback and a Taleigha Bigler midrange jumper kept the Tigers’ momentum rolling.

“I thought during that stretch that our pressure was really effective,” Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. “That kind of gave us that 20-point cushion and then after that, I thought our kids relaxed a little bit and things were a little bit easier on the offensive end at that point.”

Gillingham gave the Tigers their first double-digit lead of the game in the final minute of the first half with a close-range shot. She then deflected the ensuing Roosevelt inbound to Reese Drake, who found a cutting Reese Graven for a layup to give Marshall a 30-18 lead going into the locker room.

“[Gillingham’s] disruptive on the front of our press and that generates a lot of our offense,” Westby said. “She knocked down a few outside shots but she’s a really explosive kid and we need her to do those things for us.”

Gillingham was the game’s leading scorer, finishing the night with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers. Taleigha Bigler also added another 16 points with a pair of 3-pointers while Kennedy Drake spaced the floor with 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc for 14 points. Koll and Mateja Cousins led the Rough Riders with 14 points each.

A Susan Olson 3-pointer and a Koll layup started the Rough Riders off with a 5-0 run to start the second half. Roosevelt held Marshall scoreless for the first four minutes after the break before a Graven drive to the rim and 3-pointers from Bigler and Kennedy Drake quickly gave the Tigers 8 unanswered points to recoup any lost momentum.

“They scored the first 5 points of the second half and then I thought we settled for some things,” Westby said. “Took some shots on the perimeter that we probably didn’t need at that point. Those are just things we’ve got to iron out and get better at.”

Roosevelt got back on the board with a transition layup but, on the next defensive possession, Bjella stuffed a Rough Rider at the rim and the block turned into a transition basket for Gillingham.

The Rough Riders dominated the boards throughout the game, finishing the night with a 38-23 advantage on the glass. Reese Drake and Bigler led the Tigers with six and five rebounds respectively while Katelyn Duin and Cousins led Roosevelt with seven rebounds apiece. The Rough Riders also grabbed seven offensive boards to Marshall’s six.

Reese Drake’s five turnover-free assists were a game-high while Graven added another four steals with one turnover.

After a tough stretch in which the Tigers lost three of their four games — coming against Minnesota Class AAA No. 10 New Ulm, No. 4 St. Peter and South Dakota Class AA No. 5 Brandon Valley — the Tigers look to be back in their rhythm. After improving to 16-4 on the season with the win, Marshall will look to keep its momentum going when it hosts Pipestone Area (1-15) at SMSU on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers defeated the Arrows 71-51 in Pipestone when they met last season.

“There’s always things we need to get better at, that’s never going to change, but just some things in terms of shot selection and finishing shots inside, those sort of things we’ve got to get better at on the offensive end,” Westby said.

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