HANCOCK - His team has put together a tidy five-game winning streak, but Finlandia University women's basketball coach Jason Keefer is sure they can play better.
"We're playing pretty good basketball, but it's still coming in spurts," Keefer commented after his team throttled Northland International Saturday afternoon at Paavo Nurmi Gym by a 66-51 score. "But we can play better, I'm sure of that."
In improving to 8-12 on the season, the Lions held the visitors scoreless for nearly nine minutes to begin the contest and built up a 15-0 lead.
Finlandia’s Brierra Ruska takes the ball to the basket during Saturday’s game against Northland International at Paavo Nurmi Gym. (Paul Peterson photo)
Junior forward Hailey Gervais paced the early uprising by the Lions by notching seven points.
And after permitting the Pioneers to climb back into the game at 21-15 late in the opening half, FU embarked on a 16-4 run to close the half with a 37-19 spread as Marissa Burke and Gervais each scored 11 points.
Northland International whittled the lead down to six points twice in the second half - only to have the eventual winners answer back.
Northland Intl. - Abby Conover 10, Kate Matthai 13, Miranda Smith 1, Allie Riegel 8, Elizabeth Humburg 17; Krysti Amand 2. FG: 18-61; FT: 13-20; Rebounds: 37 (A. Conover 10); Fouls: 15; Foiled out: None; 3-point FG: Humburg 1, Matthai 1.
Finlandia - Hailey Gervais 15, Paige Yoho 10, Brierra Ruska 12, Marissa Burke 18, Emma Cole 3; Kaylin Rajala 6, Adrianna Osuna 2. FG: 24-65; FT: 11-16; Rebounds: 52 (Cole 12); Fouls: 18; Fouled out: none; 3-point FG: Burke 4, Yoho 2, Gervais 1.
Halftime score: FU 37, NIU 19.
"We did have some lapses on defense in the second half. Fortunately, we had some players step up and make big plays when it counted," Keefer said.
Burke, the ex-Watersmeet star, led the Lions with 18 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. Gervais was good for 15 points, nine boards and three assists, while Brierra Ruska had 12 points and nine rebounds. Paige Yoho chipped in 10 points and five assists.
FU freshman center Emma Cole helped her team to a 52-37 rebounding edge by hauling down 12 rebounds.
The Pioneers, who fell to 5-6, were paced by Elizabeth Humburg with 17 points. Kate Matthai tossed in 13 more.
FU will go to Northland College on Tuesday.