Saint Benedict holds off second-half rally to topple No. 3 St. Thomas (Minn.)
ST. JOSEPH, Minn. -- Saint Benedict (9-4 overall, 7-3 MIAC) put together one of its best efforts to score one of the biggest upsets of the season in a 66-62 win against MIAC-leading No. 3 St. Thomas (Minn.) (11-2 overall, 9-1 MIAC), ending the Tommies' 11-game win streak.
“We really wanted this,” said Brianna Barrett, whose 13 points marked her ninth consecutive game in double figures. “Everyone came out really energetic and that's what we needed. Just the energy and the confidence, because we have it in us. We just all needed to have an on night.”
Coming off a loss at Concordia, the Blazers came out firing, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and rarely trailed. Jamie Wollin finished with 13 points and hit more than one key 3-pointer down the stretch to keep the Tommies at bay.
“We've been able to play with the better teams in the conference,” Wollin said. “And we came out and showed how much better we are getting, and how well we can play together as a team.”
“That's what we're trying to do,” Wollin said. “Because there are a few games – Gustavus, Saint Mary's – that we've dropped the lead. We just kept with it, kept playing tough defense and when they got baskets, we were just aggressive on the boards and to get to the hoop as well.”
The Tommies climbed back from their seven-point (31-24) halftime deficit, regaining the lead at 39-38 with13:31 left to play. As they had done before, the Blazers answered, beginning a back-and-forth battle that played out for the rest of the half. With time winding down, the Blazers made the necessary plays to pull out the win.
With just four minutes left in regulation, Wollin hit a 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 60-57 lead. St. Thomas answered back with a layup by Jenna Dockter -- who led the Tommies in scoring with 14 -- and tied the game at 60 on a free throw.
Morgan Dale gave the Blazers the lead, sinking both of her shots at the line with two minutes remaining. Junior Brianna Barrett then extended the Blazer lead to four with a jumper in the paint with a minute left to play. The next trip down the floor, St. Thomas' Ann Smith fouled first-year Mattie Lueck, who hit one of her two free throws to give the Blazers a five-point lead with 30 seconds to go.
The Tommies fought back again, hitting a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in regulation, narrowing the Blazer lead to three. As Saint Benedict transitioned up the court, senior Whitney Canton was fouled by St. Thomas' Taylor Young. Canton missed her first shot, but sealed the Blazer victory by making her second shot from the line, giving Saint Benedict a four-point lead.
“Just stay composed, just stay relaxed,” Dale said of the final minutes. “That's part of the game, you get behind, you get ahead and someone's got to win, and we just kept our heads, and stayed level headed and did what we needed to do.”
Canton had a game-high 14 points for Saint Benedict, going 6 of 8 at the line. Dale earned a career-high 16 rebounds, just five short of the all-time record for the Blazers, and finsihed with her first career double-double adding 11 points. Wollin and Barrett each had 13 points, with Wollin going 3 of 5 behind the arc, while Barrett was 2 of 3 from long range.
The last time Saint Benedict beat the Tommies was on Jan. 22, 2011 with a 62-58 win at home. This was the Tommies' first loss since their season opener against now second-ranked Calvin.