St. Thomas women show their stuff, defeat Cobbers

By Bruce Bachmeier
The Forum
St. Thomas proved why its women's basketball team is ranked second in the nation veteran leadership down the stretch.

The Tommies proved to have too many experienced weapons for Concordia in their 71-57 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at Memorial Auditorium Saturday.

"One of the reasons we're so difficult to play against is that we have a lot of people we can go to," said St. Thomas coach Ted Riverso.

Those players include four senior starters, and junior Kirsten Vipond. The 6-foot center leads the team's balanced scoring with 14.7 points per game.

"Everybody's pretty mentally tough," Vipond said. "We've got a great group of seniors and they've been through everything. ... They kind of hold us all together."

The Tommies came together early in the second half when Concordia surged to within 38-35 on a 17-foot shot from Holly Zollar.

Vipond and senior guard Teri Witcraft answered with consecutive layups, and senior forward Mollie Pattyn put the Tommies up by a comfortable eight points.

The Cobbers cut the lead back down to four with 13 minutes remaining, but St. Thomas responded again with six unanswered points in less than a minute to forge a 10-point cushion.

Concordia closed to within five with 3:05 left, but the Cobbers never pulled closer after that. Concordia's only hope was to foul, but St. Thomas hit 15 of 16 free throws in the second half to ice the game.

Despite the loss, Cobbers coach Kathy Wall knows her team can compete with St. Thomas, which increased its MIAC winning streak to 51.

"We know we can play with them," Wall said. "They're a very good ballclub ... they have a lot of composure, with four seniors leading the way. We've got to finish strong these last three games; we might meet them in the playoffs."

The Cobbers (16-6, 13-4 MIAC) are in fourth place in the conference and have Augsburg, Bethel and Hamline left on their regular-season schedule.

ST. THOMAS (71): Miller 4-9 0-0 9, Dye 0-0 0-0 0, Pattyn 2-7 5-6 9, Witcraft 4-9 4-4 14, Call 3-7 2-2 10, Woods 0-1 0-0 0, Witte 5-9 2-2 12, Vipond 6-9 2-2 14, Hempel 0-2 3-4 3, Schonhoff 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 24-54 18-20 71.

CONCORDIA (57): Kragerud 1-1 0-0 2, Schirm 1-7 3-4 5, Zollar 4-11 4-4 14, Vetter 0-4 1-2 1, Backer 1-3 0-0 3, Larson 0-1 0-0 0, Mehrkens 5-9 4-5 14, Walla 1-2 0-0 2, Sonstelie 6-12 4-4 16. Totals: 19-50 16-19 57.

Halftime: St. Thomas 36, Concordia 31. Total fouls: St. Thomas 21, Concordia 18. Fouled out: Call, Pattyn. 3-point goals: St. Thomas 5-13 (Miller 1-4, Pattyn 0-1, Witcraft 2-5, Call 2-3), Concordia 3-7 (Schirm 0-2, Zollar 2-4, Backer 1-1). Rebounds: St. Thomas 33 (Vipond 7), Concordia 32 (Mehrkens 10). Steals: St. Thomas 10 (Witcraft 4), Concordia 6 (Mehrkens 2). Assists: St. Thomas 17 (Witcraft 6), Concordia 16 (Schirm 5). Turnovers: St. Thomas 13 (Call 3), Concordia 19 (Mehrkens 4, Schirm 4).

1996-97 Cobber Women's Basketball