Elise Raney goes up for two of her team-high 14 points but the Oles fell to Saint Mary's 55-52 in the MIAC Playoff quarterfinals on Tuesday evening.
Saint Mary's 55, St. Olaf 52 (Box)

Oles fall to Saint Mary's in first round of MIAC Playoffs

Michael Abdella
February 21, 2012

NORTHFIELD, Minn.- Jessica Thone scored seven of her game-high 18 points in the final three minutes of the game, as fifth-seeded Saint Mary's topped fourth-seeded St. Olaf 55-52 in a MIAC Playoff quarterfinal on Tuesday evening at Bob Gelle Court.

Trailing by three, the Oles had two three chances at game-tying threes but tries by Kirstee Rotty and Mackenzie Wolter were no good. Wolter's attempt came with two seconds remaining following a missed free throw by Thone that left St. Olaf with a chance to force overtime.

Elise Raney led the Oles with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The sophomore made seven of her nine shots from the field and also added three blocks.

St. Olaf had defeated Saint Mary's by ten and twelve points in their first two meeting this year but it was the visitors that got off to the better start. The Cardinals got baskets from Jamie Stefely and Courtney Euerle to start the game and led for all but the final 30 seconds of the first half. Saint Mary's made five threes in twelve attempts in the first half, as they led by as many as nine after a three by Sara Schoenthaler with 5:08 remaining in the opening half. However, two free throws from Wolter with 30 seconds left in the half gave the Oles their first lead of the game at 30-29. St. Olaf took that one point lead into the locker room.

After halftime, St. Olaf heated up from the floor to take command of the game. The Oles made four of their first six shots from the field to take a 38-31 lead with 16:47 remaining. Saint Mary's then scored the next five points to stay within touching distance of the Oles. With 11:01 to play, back-to-back layups from Elise Raney and Kirstee Rotty gave St. Olaf their largest lead of the game at 44-36.

Trailing by eight, the Cardinals clamped down on defense and the Oles struggled from the field for the remainder of the game. St. Olaf only scored eight points in the final 11 minutes of the game. The hosts missed their final twelve shots from the field, as their final eight points all came at the free throw line.

While the Oles went cold, Saint Mary's got important contributions from Adrianna Stephens and Thone down the stretch. Stephens made back-to-back layups with under six minutes to play to cut the Oles lead from seven to three. In the final three mintues of the game, Thone scored seven points on four free throws and a three-pointer. The three trimmed a 52-48 St. Olaf lead to just one and, after a Wolter missed jumper, Thone's free throws gave Saint Mary's a lead they would hold on to.

After shooting 11-for-31 (35.5%) in the first half, St. Olaf went cold in the second, shooting 7-of-27 (25.9%)from the field to finish at 18-58 (31.0%) for the game. Saint Mary's shot 19-54 (35.2%) for the game, including 37.5% (9-24) after the break. St. Olaf finishes the year with a 2-8 mark when they didn't make 20 field goals. Both teams shot 17 threes, with Saint Mary's making six to the Oles two. St. Olaf controlled the boards, holding a 44-34 edge but could not convert 19 offensive rebounds into enough baskets. Both teams converted on their chances at the charity stripe. Saint Mary's was 11-13 on free throws, while St. Olaf made 14-of-18.

Thone led the way for the Cardinals with her game-high 18 points. She made seven of nine free throws and three treys. Jamie Stefely was the only other Saint Mary's player in double figures, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds. Brittany Bergowicz made two threes off the bench and scored eight points.

St. Olaf finishes the year with a 17-9, 14-8 record. The 17 wins were the programs most since 1998-99. Saint Mary's improves to 14-12, 13-9 in the MIAC. The Cardinals advance to take on top-seeded St. Thomas in the semifinals. Third-seeded Concordia, who topped Bethel 55-50 on Tuesday, will travel to Gustavus to face the second-seeded Gusties.

Contact media relations specialist Mike Ludwig at (507) 786-3834 or ludwigm@stolaf.edu.