Finlandia women pick up steam

HANCOCK – After overcoming some adversity in the first half of the season, the Finlandia University women’s basketball team is beginning to hit its stride.

“I really believe we’re starting to become a cohesive team,” FU coach Terry Klemett said after his team’s 90-43 romp over Mount Mary University Saturday afternoon at Paavo Nurmi Gym. “We played some tough teams and suffered some injuries in the first half of the season.

“But we’re playing much better now, taking care of the basketball and doing an improved job of rebounding.”

The Lions, now 6-10 on the year, can also look forward to an assured postseason tournament, the Great South Athletic Conference tourney in Washington, D.C, on Feb. 28-March 2.

“We’re focusing our efforts on those games,” Klemett said. “But at the same time, we’re going to tweak some things in our defense and our offense.”

An overmatched Mount Mary team was no much match for the Blue and White, who took the early lead and kept expanding it.

An early 10-5 Lions margin quickly turned into a 26-9 cushion midway through the opening half as junior center Marissa Burke showed the way.

Burke tossed in a game-high 32 markers, collected 11 rebounds and blocked five shots in filling the stat sheeet again.

“Marissa has been playing terrific basketball,” Klemett said. “She’s ranked number eight nationally (Division III) in double-doubles.”

With a 47-22 lead at halftime, the Lions used their bench extensively in the second half.

There was plenty of support for Burke. Point guard Paige Yogo registered 18 points and seven assists; Hailey Gervais had 12 points, seven boards and three assists; and Brierra Ruska totaled 12 points, five assists and four steals.

Reserve Mary Joan Maloney came up with a season-high nine points for the winners.

Klemett praised the backcourt work of Yoho and Ruska.

“Paige Yoho has turned her game around. She and Brierra (Ruska) have created the scoring chances for Marissa and Hailey,” the FU coach noted.

Mount Mary was led by Emily Barker with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Six-foot center Donielle Yondriga grabbed a game-high 12 boards.

Finlandia will travel to Silver Lake College on Jan. 18.