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RedHawks grind out win over Massachusetts

For The Miami Student

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 22:12

The Miami University women’s basketball team improved to 4-3 on the season with a 50-40 win over the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen Saturday.

The RedHawks were without the services of senior guard Courtney Osborn, who leads the team with 19.2 points and 5.2 assists per game. Saturday’s game was Osborn’s first career missed game with injury, and she is listed as day-to-day with a head injury.

In Osborn’s absence, the rest of the team stepped up with a strong defensive effort, while being led on offense by senior forward Kirsten Olowinski and sophomore guard Courtney Larson, who made her first career start. Olowinski finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, recording her second double-double of the season and 32nd of her career.

Olowinski is now only 3 double-doubles away from tying the all-time record of 35, currently held by Monica Niemann (1991-95). With three blocks Saturday, Olowinski is now the all-time blocks leader for the Red and White, passing AuBree Hamilton’s (1996-2000) record of 134.

“Being a senior, I did feel a need to lead a little bit more than normal without my other senior out there,” Olowinksi said. “But at the same time we have great underclassmen and other upperclassmen.”

Larson finished with 12 points and four rebounds, including hitting all 10 free throws that she attempted.

“I have that confidence that when I go up to the free throw line, that I’m going to make it,” Larson said.

The RedHawks started the game on a 14-2 run over the first 6:42, capped by baskets from junior guards Hannah Robertson and Haley Robertson. However, the RedHawks offense stalled for the next eight minutes, as the Minutewomen outscored Miami 12-4 to pull within 18-14 at the 5:36 mark. Jumpers by Olowinski and Hannah Robertson gave the RedHawks a 22-16 lead at the half.

Miami’s starters carried the team in the second half, as Olowinski, Larson, Hannah Robertson, Haley Robertson, and junior forward Erica Almady played together for most of the remaining 20 minutes.

“For us to do well in the MAC we have to have 5-7 players start to separate themselves,” Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “When that happens, the substitute minutes are just as important, but not as many. But we’re not going to be able to do it alone with this group.”

The RedHawks went scoreless for the first 7:29 of the second half, but strong defense kept Massachusetts to only seven points during that period leaving the Minutewomen with a 23-22 lead. Almady snapped the scoreless drought with 12:31 left to give Miami a brief 24-23 lead, but Massachusetts responded with a 5-2 run to give them a 28-26 lead, their largest of the game, at the 11:14 mark.

A three-point play by junior center Kelsey Simon gave Miami back the lead at 29-28. The three points from Simon were the only bench points the Red and White had all game. Over the next four minutes, the RedHawks put the game out of reach with an 11-2 run to make the score 40-30 with 4:41 left. Massachusetts went on a 7-0 run to pull within three, but Larson ended any comeback hopes with a jumper to make it a two-possession game late. Miami hit their free throws down the stretch to expand their lead and hold on to the 50-40 win.

Hannah Robertson and Almady both finished with eight points, with Robertson adding five assists and six steals in addition to stifling perimeter defense. Robertson held Massachusetts guard Emily Mital, a 54 percent three point shooter, to 2-13 shooting beyond the arc. The Minutewomen shot 26.3 percent (15 for 57) from the field and had 21 turnovers.

“I was proud of our team,” Fantanarosa said. “Everyone that got good minutes, they just took their game to the next level.”

The RedHawks return to action 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in their fifth annual Class at the Court game, hosting Wright State University. Wright State has a 2-3 record on the season, including a win over Mid-American Conference member, the University at Buffalo.

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