By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
Mankato West had just scored six straight points to pull within 17-14 with 8:40 remaining in the first half, but the Scarlets went cold and Rochester John Marshall’s size took over.
The Rockets used a 20-1 run over the final eight minutes to secure a 67-38 victory in a Big Nine Conference girls basketball game Tuesday at the West gym. It was some revenge for the Rockets, who lost to West 59-51 in December.
“We had a lot more ‘want’ the last time,” West coach Kristin Krusemark said. “We shot poorly tonight, and we didn’t shoot with confidence. We had a couple things that didn’t go our way, and we got our heads down. We didn’t have the fight we needed to have tonight.”
The Rockets, who had a size advantage at almost every position, dominated the paint behind freshman Jamie Ruden’s 16 points in the first half. Guard Katelyn Rushton, who didn’t play in the first matchup this season, added nine points as JM led 37-15 at halftime. JM had a 20-12 rebounding advantage in the first half.
“We just didn’t execute our offense,” senior Cara Christiansen said. “It’s tough to win when you only have 15 points at halftime.”
The Rockets got the lead up to 27 early in the second half before West scored seven straight, capped by Lexi Schoper’s three-point play. But JM continued to push the ball inside, and soon the lead was up to 30.
“They always had three big players on the court,” Christiansen said. “You don’t see that too often. It’s tough to match up with them.”
Christiansen finished with nine points and five rebounds, and Schoper had seven points and seven boards. Sarah Buryska scored eight points.
Ruden ended up with 21 points and six rebounds, and Rushton added 14 points. Freshman post Nicole Fautsch had 11 points and 10 rebounds. JM had a 36-23 advantage in rebounding.
“We’ve done a lot of reflecting this year, and you want to keep taking steps forward,” Krusemark said. “Tonight was a step backward. We have some winnable games coming up, but we have to play better and have some fight.”
West (5-13, 4-9 in Big Nine) plays Friday at Austin.