Burke stands tall for Finlandia

HANCOCK – She seldom goes up against an opposing center smaller than her, but Marissa Burke of the Finlandia University women’s basketball team doesn’t let that faze her.

“Just about every center I’ve played against this season goes 5-foot-11, 6-feet or taller,” the 5-9 Burke said after her team’s 79-72 win over Lawrence University Thursday afternoon. “I just try to do the best I can.”

Burke, the former Watersmeet High standout, put together a full stat sheet with team high totals of 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the victory at Paavo Nurmi Gym.

“She (Burke) has to battle game in and game out against bigger players,” FU coach Terry Klemett said. “But she plays hard and makes good decisions. She’s really improving her overall game.”

While leading virtually the entire way, the Blue and White had to put down several rallies late in the game by the visiting Vikings.

A hoop by Andrea Wilkinson of LU shaved the Finlandia lead to 73-70 with just over two minutes left to play.

But Burke pocketed one free throw and Paige Yoho nailed a big triple to up the margin to 77-70 – and put it out of reach.

“We received a lot of good performances today,” Klemett noted. “Marissa (Burke) and Hailey (Gervais) played their usual good games, but Paige Yoho, Brierra Ruska and Mikayla Hakala all played well.”

Finlandia held a 39-28 lead at the halftime break before the Wisconsin team began to use its decided height advantage. No fewer than five Vikings stood 5-10 or better.

“Their size was a problem … no doubt about it,” Klemett said. “But we battled and were able to pull it out.”

Gervais, the former Hancock High star, followed Burke in the scoring column with 18 points. She and reserve center Adrianna Osuna each grabbed seven rebounds.

Ruska and Hakala divided 24 points, while Yoho chipped in 10 points and a fine floor game for the 3-8 Lions.

Lawrence, dropping to 3-5 on the season, was led by Alex Deshler with 13 points. Wilkinson had 12 points and game-best 13 boards, while Patsy Kealey put in 11 more.

Now 2-0 this season at Paavo Nurmi, Finlandia is idle until Dec. 31 at home against Lakeland College.

“We play much better here at Paavo Nurmi,” Burke pointed out. “And we’re done with the bigger Division II schools (on the schedule).”