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Trojans cage Tigers, 66-53

WORTHINGTON -- Just four and a half minutes into Thursday's Southwest Conference girls' basketball game, Worthington's Gabby Boever picked up her third foul -- forcing her to the bench for the remainder of the first half.

"I didn't like it at all," Boever said of being banned to the bench. "I hate sitting on the bench. But I guess that's what I had to do."

Trailing 7-4 at the time to Marshall, the Trojans (4-0, 7-0) went on a 23-7 run over the next six minutes to take a 27-14 lead.

"That's how it has to be," said Worthington head coach Eric Lindner, who won his 150th game at the helm of the Trojans. "When someone goes out, somebody has to come in and pick them up, and I thought that Kaitlin (Gerber) came in and picked it up for her."

In a game full of scoring spurts, the Trojans used a 19-6 run over the final eight minutes of the game to secure a 66-53 victory.

"It was a game of runs," Marshall head coach Mary Jo Hmielewski said. "They just happened to get a run near the end that we couldn't come back from. That's what basketball is, it's a game of a team stopping a run and a team coming back from a run."

Marshall (1-1, 2-3) jumped out to a quick lead after a 3-pointer from Kayla Wallerich (four points), a shot from Amanda Larsen (four points, six assists) and a pair of free throws from Anna Full (eight points).

However, after Boever's third foul -- with the last foul being a technical -- Worthington's Rachel Pavelko (11 points), hit a shot, and Alyssa Smith (nine points, six rebounds, four steals) followed with a basket to spark the Trojan run.

Holli Aggen (19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals) hit a 3-pointer from the right wing and then followed with a layup -- giving Worthington a three-point lead.

Another 3-pointer from Aggen, later in the first half, gave Worthington its largest lead of the period, 32-18.

However, Marshall would not go away and closed to within five points, before the Trojans increased the lead to 37-27 at the break.

"It was a great game for us," Lindner said. "I thought that in the first half, we really played with a lot of intensity. I thought our defense was very good. I wish we wouldn't have gone into the locker room, because when we came out, there was about six minutes where our defense wasn't where it needed to be."

The Tigers came out in the second half on fire. Full hit a layup, and Katie Mulder (15 points, 12 rebounds) followed with a layup to cut the lead to seven.

Following a trey by Stacey Tykwinski and another basket from Mulder, the Tigers trailed by just two, 38-36.

Boever (12 points) scored seven of the Trojans first eight points in the second half, but the Tigers tied the game at 47-all.

"We're very happy with how the girls responded at halftime and tying the game up," Hmielewski said. "It was a learning experience. We learned a lot about Worthington that we can take back home and work on and get ready for the next time we meet up with them."

Boever answered with two baskets, and Worthington was off and running.

"I think the difference was that they were getting kind of tired, and we were ready to go; we kept going at them," Boever said.

Pavelko hit a 3 from the left wing -- pushing the Trojan lead to seven and forcing a Marshall timeout.

"Once Rachel (Pavelko) came down and hit that 3, I knew that our defensive intensity would pick up when that happened," Lindner said.

As the Trojan defense picked up, Marshall struggled to find the basket. The Tigers did not score in a span of seven-plus minutes, giving Worthington a 61-47 lead.

"I think the difference was that when you feel somebody coming up on your heels, you know you better pick it up," Lindner said. "I thought the last eight minutes, our defense was very good, and they took a lot of shots that were forced."

The Trojans made six-of-eight free throws in the last two minutes to secure a 13-point victory.

"Down in the end, we made our free throws, but our free throw shooting wasn't very good today," Lindner said. "I'm really happy with our effort. Marshall has always been a big game for us, and it's nice to go into the Holidays with this win."

While the Trojans missed just two free throws in the final minutes, overall, they were just 17-of-32 (52 percent) from the charity stripe.

With both teams entering the game with an undefeated record in the conference, it was a game that both teams wanted to win.

"We really wanted to beat these guys," Boever said. "This is one of the biggest games of the year, and so we sat down and said that we had to beat these guys."

Marshall committed 31 turnovers on the day, and shot just 30 percent from the floor (19-of-62).

"We are a better shooting team than what we showed tonight, and that's one of the things that we'll focus on," Hmielewski said. "You have to give credit to Worthington; they put a lot of pressure on us and forced us to take a lot of shots that we wouldn't normally choose to take."

With the victory, the Trojans will take their undefeated record and No. 5 state ranking into a week break for the Holidays.

"It's huge," Boever said of the victory. "We're now 4-0 in the conference and 7-0 on the season, so we're doing really good right now."

The Trojans will be on the court again Thursday at the Holiday Tournament in Albert Lea.

"Things are going real well, and we don't want to take anything for granted," Lindner said. "It's going to be a one game at a time approach."

Marshall 27 26 -- 53

Worthington 37 29 -- 66

Marshall (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Tykwinski 1-0-0-3, Westby 0-1-0-2, Larsen 0-1-2-4, Vandeputte 2-0-0-6, Tate 1-0-0-3, Full 0-3-2-8, Schultze 0-4-0-8, Wallerich 1-0-1-4, Mulder 0-5-5-15. Totals 5-14-10-53.

Worthington (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) S. Boever 0-1-3-5, Aggen 2-2-9-19, G. Boever 1-4-1-12, Pavelko 1-2-0-11, Gerber 0-1-0-2, Smith 0-3-3-9, Vander Veen 1-2-0-7, Donkersloot 0-0-1-1. Totals 5-17-17-66.