Larson lifts Blue Hawks late: Junior guard scores 10 of team’s last 13 points in win over Waldorf
The Dickinson State University women's basketball team led throughout its home conference match-up with Waldorf (Iowa) until the visitors made a late charge.
Entering the fourth quarter down 57-53, the Warriors poured in 10 of the frame's first 14 points, capped by a 3-pointer from senior guard Michaela Graffunder, which gave Waldorf its first lead since the scoreboard read 4-2 early in the first.
The teams seesawed a bit from there, as the game was tied on three different occasions until another guard took over when it mattered most.
Blue Hawks junior Ashlie Larson drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than three minutes remaining. She produced 10 of her team's final 13 points as Dickinson State picked up its first conference victory of the season, defeating the Warriors 82-75 on Friday, Jan. 11, from Scott Gym.
"I'm very proud of the girls, they stepped up and handled the pressure at the end of the game," Blue Hawks head coach Liz Lewis said. "Ashlie Larson stepped up and hit some big free throws for us. They executed the situations just like we've worked on and I thought they did a very good job."
Late in the fourth, each team went through multiple possessions seeking a dagger from long distance. After Warriors junior point guard Morgan Straight hit a fallaway in the lane to tie the ballgame at 69, Larson still wasn't hesitant to fire from deep, draining a shot from behind the arc to give the Blue Hawks an advantage they wouldn't relinquish.
"It feels good. I've been in this situation before and I have a lot of confidence," Larson said. "So when that ball left my hands, I knew it was going in, it felt great."
Following a make inside by Waldorf senior forward Ameh Obgemudia, Larson responded with a hard drive into the lane, banking in a layup while absorbing contact. She went to the line and completed the three-point play, putting the home team up 75-71 with 1:31 left.
"The play is a double screen, an (isolation) pretty much, and you either come off it hard and get to the rim or they go under the screen and then I'll shoot it," Larson recalled. "They got confused communicating and switched it, I saw the lane and just went for it."
Shooting 4 of 7 from three-point range, Larson finished the game with a team-high 19 points.
Following a free-throw from freshman forward Danielle Wallace to put DSU up 78-75, Waldorf called a timeout with 26.6 seconds remaining. When the players returned to the floor, Straight was left wide open for a corner-three attempt, but her shot was off the back-rim. Larson collected the rebound and sunk a pair of free throws after being fouled.
"That was the look that you wanted, coming out of that sideline, out-of-bounds play," Warriors head coach Katie Schutjer remarked on the designed play. "We executed the play the way we needed to, we got the shot the way we needed to, but like our perimeter game tonight, our threes just weren't falling. Unfortunately, it just didn't fall for us there either."
The Warriors (7-8, North Star 2-2) went only 4-for-17 from behind the arc, but got plenty of contributions from Obgemudia, who dominated inside to the tune of a game-high 25 points. When she wasn't finishing in the post, Obgemudia was producing offense for others, kick the ball out for open looks outside, which her teammates would either shoot or drive after a defending would close out. The biggest beneficiary was Graffunder, who used penetration en route to 20 points.
"She's a great player. She went 11-for-14 from the field tonight, that's a phenomenal percentage," Lewis said of Obgemudia. "We talked about her all week and how big of a threat she is inside, keep her off the block and things like that defensively that we wanted to do, but she did what she does best. ... I thought our freshmen did a good job matching up against her; she dropped 25 points and that shows how good of a player she really is."
Wallace and freshman forward Caleigh McClenahan were tasked with slowing down Ogbemudia, but the duo were threats to score as well, combining for 29 points. McClenahan also added seven rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals.
Putting up nine of her 15 points in the first half, Wallace snatched down a pair of critical rebounds in the fourth, and finished with five total.
"I'm very proud of the way Wally played tonight," Lewis said. "She played very, very hard and came up with rebounds when we needed them. She came up with some easy buckets when we needed them and I'm very proud of her as a freshman, both her and Caleigh are doing a phenomenal job stepping up and playing well for us inside."
Dickinson State (8-11, North Star 1-3) shot under 44 percent from the field in the second half after making nearly 55 percent of its shots in the first. Collecting four assists in the first half, senior forward Rojin Karahan did a nice job of pushing the ball up the floor after a rebound and finding the open teammate on the perimeter or driving into the lane and dropping a pass to a post player down low.
At the end of the first half, Larsen fired a one-handed strike to senior guard Lacey Waid busting to the basket on a backdoor cut. Waid's bucket gave the Blue Hawks a 41-32 advantage heading into halftime.
"I thought overall our girls did an excellent job sharing the ball," Lewis said. "Our offense is starting to click, we're starting to understand the movements and where the ball needs to be. I think we did excellent job cutting hard, delivering the ball and working together as a team. This was definitely a great overall team win."
Dickinson State 82, Waldorf 75
W 10 22 21 22
DSU 19 22 16 25
W (7-8, North Star 2-2): Ameh Ogbemudia 25, Michaela Graffunder 20, Taylor Fricke 8.
DSU (8-11, North Star 1-3): Ashlie Larson 19, Danielle Wallace 15, Caleigh McClenahan 14, Riley Helmick 9, Lacey Waid 6, Rojin Karahan 6, Celeste Pantoja 6, Anna Jofresa 5, Brook Janz 2.
Total fouls: W 14, DSU 14. 3-point goals: W 4-17 (Graffunder 2-4), DSU 9-20 (Larson 4-7). Rebounds: W 30 (Jenkins 5, Fricke 5), DSU 32 (McClenahan 7). Assists: W 15 (Morgan Straight 4, Graffunder 4), DSU 16 (Karahan 6). Steals: W 4 (Emily Haubrich 3), DSU 9 (McClenahan 2, Karahan 2, Larson 2). Blocks: W 2 (Graffunder 2), DSU 3 (McClenahan 2). Turnovers: W 16, DSU 17.