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Ellsworth women hold off Spartan charge

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 11:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 11:40 a.m. CDT

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One cold stretch in the second half proved costly as the Southwestern women attempted to gain their first victory during interim coach Steve Tussey’s first home appearance Wednesday night.

The Spartans fell behind 26-19 at halftime, surged ahead 36-34 with 12 minutes left, and then faded during a five-minute scoreless drought as Ellsworth ended up with a 60-54 road victory.

Southwestern fell behind as far as 13 points (56-43) during the dry spell, only to make another charge in the final minutes, capped by Jamee Miner’s 3-pointer at the final buzzer. Moments earlier, Miner ran six steps into the bleachers trying to save a steal as the Spartans scrambled to gain extra possessions.

That was a sign to Tussey, who stepped in at mid-season when Brett Gilcrist resigned, that the team is buying his “never-quit” philosophy.

“The girls are really positive,” Tussey said. “It’s been a long season for them, but they are working hard and listening and I appreciate that.”

Miner ended up with a team-high 19 points along with three steals and three assists for Southwestern, now 0-17 overall and 0-4 in ICCAC Division II play. Ellsworth improved to 8-10 and 1-3.

Freshman forward Celine Jolicoeu of Elmont, N.Y., led Ellsworth with 28 points, including 16 in the second half. Brittany Steffeny, an outside shooting threat from Cedar Rapids, had two treys in scoring 11 points.

“When we scouted, 25 (Jolicoeu) was driving and not shooting,” Tussey said. “She started making baskets tonight. We wanted to guard 35 (Steffeny) all the time. She got a couple open looks she shouldn’t have gotten. When we’re in a zone we can’t give up drives from the wing. We have to force them to the sideline.”

On several occasions, Southwestern fought back after nearly letting Ellsworth turn it into a rout. Morgan Knorr’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer cut a 10-point deficit to 26-19 at intermission.

Miner’s two free throws tied it at 34-34 with 12:29 left and moments later she popped in a jumper to give her team the lead.

Brittany Clark worked inside for a basket that gave Southwestern a 40-37 lead. Ellsworth answered with a drive by Steffeny and then a four-point play by Jolicoeu, who converted the free throw after making a 3-pointer.

That put Ellsworth ahead 43-40 and the Panthers never relinquished the lead from that point.

“A big play was when the girl hit the three from the top of the key and they called a foul,” Tussey said. “That was a big momentum switch.”

After Ellsworth moved in front 56-43 with 2:15 left, Southwestern owned an 11-4 the rest of the way in mounting another comeback try.

“Fatigue could have been somewhat of a factor. The girls gave great effort,” Tussey said.

On Saturday, Southwestern travels to Mason City to take on NIACC, which fell to 9-9 overall and 2-3 in the league with a 58-55 loss to nationally-ranked Southeastern Wednesday.

ELLSWORTH (60) — Celine Jolicoeu 11 5-5 28, Brittany Steffeny 4 1-1 11, OiAna Lambert 3 2-4 10, Jade Campbell 0 6-6 6, Annaka Olsen 1 1-2 3, Shamirah Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals — 20 15-18 60. 3-point goals — 5 (Steffeny 2, Lambert 2, Jolicoeu 1). Team fouls — 12. Fouled out  — None.

SOUTHWESTERN (54) — Jamee Miner 7 3-3 19, Morgan Knorr 3 2-2 11, Darian Polson 4 0-0 8, Brittany Clark 3 0-0 6, Kourtni Stumpf 3 0-0 6, Kaley Folkerts 1 0-0 3, Miranda Williams 0 1-2 1. Totals — 21 6-7 54. FG shooting — 21-60 (35 percent). 3-point goals — 6-18 (Knorr 3, Miner 2, Folkerts 1). Rebounds — Polson 9, Stumpf 7, Knorr 4, Folkerts 4.  Assists — Knorr 4, Folkerts 3, Miner 3. Steals — Miner 3, Polson 2, Knorr 1. Blocked shots — Polson 1. Turnovers — 10. Team fouls — 14. Fouled out  — None.

Ellsworth — 26 60

SWCC — 19 54

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