By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
At halftime, Mankato East saw its lead slip to five points, and Mankato West had some momentum.
But the Cougars used their size advantage to score inside, leading to a 66-42 victory in a Big Nine Conference girls basketball game Tuesday at Bresnan Arena.
“We started using three posts at about the 15-minute mark (of the second half),” East coach Mike Barger said. “Our shot selection wasn’t very good in the first half, so we started going inside more often.”
East led from the first basket of the game, and the margin grew to 32-19 when Bria Armstrong hit a 3-pointer from the left wing.
But the Scarlets started hitting 3-pointers, too, and Sarah Buryska and Mackenzie Franke each hit from long-range to start a 13-5 run that lasted until halftime.
“We felt confident at halftime,” West coach Kristin Krusemark said. “We were getting into the flow of our offense. But it seemed like when one thing went wrong, we didn’t fight through it.”
East opened the second half with an 18-4 run, dominating the rebounds, which allowed the Cougars to run. Claire Ziegler had six points and eight rebounds in the second half, while Taylor Karge had four points and five boards after the break.
East was 4 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half and 1 of 7 in the second.
“The first half, our shooting was cold,” Karge said. “Coach told us to keep shooting, and eventually they would fall.”
Karge finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, and Minnie Frederick had 13 points. Ziegler added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
West was led by Franke and Cara Christiansen with 13 points apiece, and Christiansen added nine rebounds. The Scarlets committed 20 turnovers.
“We played well defensively, and we rebounded well in the second half,” Barger said. “We gave up too many easy shots in the first half so we need to keep working on our defense.”
East (11-3, 7-1 in Big Nine) plays its next game Friday at Faribault. West (3-11, 2-7) also plays Faribault next, though that game isn’t until Friday, Jan. 25.