Women’s Basketball Fall in ARC Semifinals to Loras

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Berit Skogen ('22) Chips

Maggie Anderson ('20) and Madi Spece ('20) put on a full-court press vs Central.

The Luther Women’s Basketball team won their first game of the American River’s Conference Tournament against sixth seed Central College, 58-55, but fell in the semi-finals against second seed Loras College, 74-61.

The team finished the season with a conference record of 13- 5, and an overall record of 14-9 securing the third seed for the conference tournament.

In their quarterfinal game, the team built up an 18-4 lead in the opening seven minutes of the game. Central scored seven unanswered points, and the first period ended with a 25-20 Norse lead.

In the second quarter, Luther jumped out to another double digit lead, 27-15, and finished off the half leading 34-26.

Megan LaPlante (‘20) loved the energy that the home fans brought and how it helped the team’s first half performance.

“It was just an insane atmosphere,” LaPlante said. “We really appreciate all the support, it was incredible. It just makes everything so much better [and] so much more fun.”

The second half was hard fought, with Central eventually taking the lead 40-39 seven minutes into the half. The game remained close, with Luther unable to pull away, eventually holding on to win by three.

Captain Laura Hamilton (‘20) led the Norse with 19 points. Sarah Holtz (‘20) and Madilyn Heinke (‘20) each had 10 points, with Heinke pulling down 11 rebounds.

After splitting the regular season series with Central, winning 79-41 at home and losing 58-56 on the road, LaPlante was sure their playoff matchup would be close.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game [going in],” LaPlante said. “Central won last time we played them. They are really a scrappy team.”

Holtz said the team had to be prepared for the game against Loras. Luther won both of their regular season games against Loras, winning 80-77 at home and 76-66 in Dubuque.

“They’re really a very talented team,” Holtz said. “We had played them twice already this season, and we beat them both times, but going in we knew it was going to be a tough game.”

The first quarter against Loras was a back and forth affair. Five minutes in, Luther was ahead 10-7, but by the end of the quarter they trailed 21- 17.

After leading the opening quarter, Loras did not trail again. Luther kept their lead under 10 points through the second and third, but by the fourth quarter Loras pulled away and won 74-61.

Grace Prokosch (‘23) led the team with 13 points, and Holtz and Heinke added 11 and 10 points respectively.

“We definitely played well,” Holtz said. “They had clearly prepared. I think with everything kind of stacked against us, we still played a really good game.”

This was the final game for the team’s six seniors. Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Senior Woman Administrator Amanda Bailey praised the seniors as some of the best she has coached at Luther.

“We have got great leadership,” Bailey said. “In the nine years that I’ve been the head coach, this has been our biggest senior class, and so we’ve got six seniors and two of them being fifth year seniors, there’s a lot of experience, and the knowledge that they have of on the basketball court and in life and school and it’s just been amazing.There are things that with younger groups you have to worry about, but our girls have just been phenomenal.”

LaPlante enjoyed her final season as well.

“I think we have definitely shown that we are a resilient team,” LaPlante said. “We proved that if we worked together and we work hard and we come together as a team, we can really do anything. We can beat anyone.”

As for the ARC tournament, first seed Wartburg would edge out Loras 67-54 to win the tournament and the automatic bid to the Division III NCAA tournament,. Loras received an At-Large bid to play in the Division III tournament.

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