Finlandia women fend off Raiders

HANCOCK – Playing just well enough was good enough for the Finlandia University women’s basketball team to record a win over Milwaukee School of Engineering Saturday afternoon.

“We played in streaks today,” Lions coach Jason Keefer said after his team’s 60-52 victory at Paavo Nurmi Gym. “The last three minutes of the first half and first three minutes of the second half actually decided the game for us. But like I told the girls afterward … a win is a win … whether it’s ugly or not.”

Finlandia used a 7-2 run in the latter part of the first half to take the lead – a three-point basket at the buzzer by Kaylin Rajala providing a 29-28 lead at intermission.

Then the locals went on a 10-0 spurt to begin the second half to assume a 39-28 margin.

The Raiders, however, would tie the game twice in the final six minutes, the last time at 48-all.

But Hailey Gervais gave the Lions the lead for good when she fired in a quick triple for a 51-48 lead.

A pair of key baskets by sophomores Brierra Ruska and Megan Turunen, plus four free throws by freshman Emma Cole salted it away.

“Hailey (Gervais) played her usual steady game and she was 5-of-9 on three-pointers,” Keefer noted. “But Briera Ruska and Emma Cole really made some big plays for us when it counted.”

Gervais, the former Hancock High standout, led the 5-12 victors with 17 points. She also grabbed 9 rebounds.

Ruska (Superior Central) tallied 15 points and played solid defense. Cole, the ex-Gwinn High standout, pitched in nine points along with Rajala. The former also latched on to a game-leading 14 points.

“That’s what we’ve been getting from Emma Cole the last few games,” Keefer stated. “It’s very important because we’re not a tall team.”

The visitors managed to keep it close in the second half behind the play of Shannon Larson and Ali Lo Bue. Larson counted 14 points to pace the 0-11 Raiders, while Loe Bue had 12 more.

Finlandia goes to Silver Lake College on Monday.