The Lawrence women’s basketball team (seventh in conference) faced off on Saturday at Alexander Gym against the Monmouth Fighting Scots (fourth in conference). The Vikings had a great opportunity to redeem themselves after the previous matchup between the two teams, in which they lost 72-75 on a game-sealing 3-pointer in overtime. However, despite senior Emma Carlson’s dominant performance in which she logged yet another impressive double-double (14 points, career high 20 rebounds), the Vikings again could not overcome the Fighting Scots. A strong fourth quarter run by Monmouth ultimately saw the game slip away from the Vikings in a 48-52 overtime loss.
The Vikings have been struggling with injuries as of late – sophomores guards Maggie Culver and Caroline Sharpe remained on the injury list for this matchup, and experienced point guard and senior Ashley Batac played limited minutes. However, despite these absences, Lawrence brought great energy and smothering defense in the first quarter, holding Monmouth to just five points on 1-13 shooting. The Vikings ended the first quarter 11-5 and extended their lead to 16-8 in the second on a strong drive and layup by sophomore guard Lydia Lueck. However, Monmouth guard Tarae Warner (18 points, 15 rebounds) was able to utilize her size in defensive mismatches in the latter part of the second quarter. She scored six points off opportunities in the paint to lead her team on a 9-4 run, ending the half at a score of 20-17 (albeit on 5-23 team shooting).
The third quarter was a stalemate of sorts. Lawrence was not able to break away from Monmouth despite scoring 17 of their 48 points in the third, while Monmouth was not able to steal the lead from the Vikings even with strong offensive efforts of their own. Lawrence first-year Josie Eager made strong contributions in the third, scoring five points on 2/3 shooting while pulling in 2 two rebounds. Emma Carlson also logged five points, with a strong play in the paint to close the quarter 37-31.
However, the fourth quarter is where the tide turned in favor of Monmouth. An impressive 9-2 run, ended on two free throws by Monmouth center Zoie Wall gave the Fighting Scots a 39-40 lead with 4:02 left in the game (their first since 7:10 in the first quarter). A scoring drought ensued, but a clutch three by Lawrence guard and senior Delaney Brooks gave the Vikings a 42-40 lead. After an acrobatic spin layup and two free throws from Monmouth’s Tarae Warner, it was none other than Lydia Lueck who saved the day for the Vikings. Her quick first step and finesse allowed her to drive past her defender and sink a heavily contested layup with 8 seconds on the clock, tying the game at 44 and forcing overtime.
This game was no different than so many basketball games before – it was decided by free throws. Emma Carlson and first-year Sophie Morey went to the line and together scored 4 out of 4 free throw attempts, with the Scots eventually tying the game. However, after a layup by Monmouth’s Zoie Wall put the Scots up by two with 26.2 seconds left in overtime, the Vikings missed their next four free throw attempts. Monmouth was then able to control the ball and seal the game with two more free throws, handing the Vikings a 48-52 loss.
Despite the tough loss, there are some silver linings to be found in this game for the Vikings. They managed to limit Monmouth’s frontcourt threat Zoie Wall to just five points (who in their last matchup dropped 29). Also, Lawrence’s first years played significant minutes – Josie Eager, Tanner Bost, and Sophie Morey all logged at least 20 minutes on the court, combining for 12 points. This is important for the future – playing time is key to improvement in games, and this is especially the case in high-pressure scenarios. No doubt these players will be able to handle themselves during crunch time in years to come. Additionally, it shows that Lawrence, with their young core, can be competitive with upper ranked teams. Three out of five Viking starters are underclassman, with sophomore Mallory Meyer already leading the team in PPG (points per game). With many first years playing well off the bench, things are looking up for Lawrence women’s basketball.
The Vikings hope to break their six-game losing streak at home against Beloit (8th in conference) on Wednesday, January 25th at 5:30pm.