HANCOCK - All it took was a little homecooking for the Finlandia University women's basketball team to notch its first win of the season.
The scrappy Lions scored a hard-fought 88-83 victory over Alma College Sunday afternoon at Paavo Nurmi Gym.
"We've had a tough early season schedule (four Division II teams)," said first-year FU head coach Terry Klemett. "It was nice to get back on our home floor ... we played pretty well today."
With the game knotted at 83-all with 1:01 to play and Finlandia holding the ball, Klemett called on junior guard Brierra Ruska to take a big shot.
Ruska was true on a three-pointer from the wing and the Blue and White took a lead they would not relinquish. Two free throws by Marissa Burke with 21 seconds left put the icing on the cake.
"We've been working with Brierra and she's been learning my system," Klemett said. "She came in and hit a heck of a of a shot today."
The two teams exchanged the lead numerous times, the biggest margin being five points at 63-58 for the taller downstate squad midway through the second half.
That was when FU senior guard Hailey Gervais came up big.
The former Hancock High standout dropped in a triple and added two free throws to tie at the game at 63-63.
Gervais and Burke - the game's top scorer with 32 points - matched Alma's Mallory Pruett and Erica Hansen down the nip-and-tuck stretch.
"Hailey (Gervais) got into foul trouble early in the first half and we really had to lean on Marrisa (Burke)," Klemett noted. "She was outstanding, but we had some nice contributions from other players, too."
Burke had a full stats box, piling up a team-high 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 steals. Freshman Mikayla Hakala was next with 15 markers, Gervais put in 14 and Ruska added 11 points. Paige Yoho had 8 points and 5 assists.
The 0-5 Scots, who led 43-40 at halftime, were led by Pruett, the Ishpeming product, with 23 points. Hansen contributed 19 points and 11 boards, while Kassidi Adams and Faith Weier split 20 points.
The 1-4 Lions will travel to Crown College on Dec. 3 to start again after Thanksgiving.