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Lions’ women take two on the court

Finlandia’s Casana Ryynanen lines up for a jumper in a game against Northwestern-St. Paul on Saturday at the Paavo Nurmi Center in Hancock. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — Seventy was the magic number for the Finlandia Lions’ women’s basketball team this weekend. On Friday night the Lions downed the North Central (Minn.) Rams, 70-49. Less than 24 hours later, they won again with a score of 70-56 as they defeated the Northwestern-St. Paul (Minn.) Eagles and improved to 4-5 on the young season.

“The key to our success this weekend was our solid defense,” said Lions coach Brandi Hainault. “The girls did a good job of not allowing a lot of easy buckets especially tonight (Saturday). “

The numbers attest to that strong defense in the game against NMU. The Eagles shot just 27% from the field. They gave up 14 turnovers. They had just 22 points in the paint and nine points off turnovers.

On the other end of the court, nearly half of the Lions’ points, 34, came from inside the paint and they converted 14 points from turnovers and forced 10 steals from the Eagles. Finlandia shot 41% from the field.

Hainault said she liked how her players moved the ball well and quickly on offense. There was no selfishness and they played with determination. Finlandia went to the locker room at half time with a 32-21 lead.

“I told them I liked what they were doing and to keep it up,” she said. “The first half was our best. With our small bench and playing games back-to-back, you could tell our players were getting tired and worn out in the second half.”

Tired or not, the Lions outscored the Eagles 38-35 in the third and fourth quarters for their fourth win.

Sophomore Maija Rice led the scoring for the Lions with 17 points and eight rebounds. Classmate Ellie Djerf had 16 points and eight rebounds and junior Bethany Baldwin sunk 14 and pulled in four rebounds to round out the Finlandia scoring.

“Maija had a great game,” said Hainault. “She is fearless out there as she takes it to the hoop and is always trying to make plays.”

For Northwestern, River Landers had 13 points and nine rebounds.

Up next

Finlandia hits the road, Wednesday, Dec. 7, when they take on Wisconsin-River Falls. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

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