Oles falter, remain winless in conference

After a brutal loss at the hands of conference leader Bethel in which it at one point trailed by 16 points, the St. Olaf women’s basketball team once again had its hands full on Saturday, Dec. 3, when it took on St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul. Both teams were looking for their first conference victory of the season, with St. Kate’s overall record sitting at 3-2 and the Oles settling for a 2-4 start. The contest remained competitive through three periods, but eventually St. Olaf’s offense went absent down the stretch, resulting in a nine-point fourth period that spelled doom for the Oles in a 69-51 defeat. St. Olaf has now surrendered six consecutive conference defeats dating back to last season.

The Oles started slow, only managing nine points in the first period, but stingy defense held St. Kate’s in check, keeping the contest within a margin of five. The second quarter of play told a completely opposite story from the first – though St. Olaf doubled its production with an 18-point explosion, its defense also faltered, allowing the Wildcats to post a sum of 23, netting St. Kate’s a 10-point advantage at halftime. That lead would eventually become 14.

However, the Oles responded with a late game push, cutting their opponents’ advantage to five early in the fourth quarter. This comeback effort was primarily led by team leader Betsey Daly ’17 and emerging star Makenna Ash ’19, who both posted double-doubles during the game. Daly scored 15 points, adding to her total of 75, which averages to 10.7 per contest, and 16 rebounds, raising her season sum to 79 – all of those statistics are tops among the Ole players. Ash contributed with 14 points and 10 rebounds, bringing her season totals to 70 and 59, respectively, placing second behind Daly in both categories, in addition to her team-leading field goal percentage (.431) and blocks total (7). Daly and Ash have developed into a formidable combination for St. Olaf, especially in rebounds – Daly leads the conference with 11.3 rebounds per game, and Ash isn’t far behind, placing fourth with an average of 8.4.

Ella Skrien ’20 added 10 points and three assists of her own, helping the Oles remain competitive well into the final period of play. However, St. Olaf’s offense disappeared in the fourth, scoring only nine points while allowing the Wildcats to go on a 14-1 run to close out the game. Despite great individual performances, the Oles opened and closed poorly, unable to put together a full game of excellent play. They suffered their fifth defeat of the season and remain winless in conference, putting them in last place.

St. Olaf’s schedule softens considerably during the next couple weeks, including games against Macalester, Hamline and Concordia, three teams that are also winless in conference. The Oles must rebound against these weaker opponents if they hope to get their season back on track.