The Trinity Lutheran girls made seven free throws during the final three minutes against Orleans on Saturday afternoon to register a 49-41 win in the Bollinger Athletic Complex.
Savannah Harweger made a field goal — the Cougars only basket of the fourth quarter –- with 4:55 remaining to put her team on top 42-38.
After the Bulldogs (2-7) closed to 42-41, the Cougars (3-7) spent a lot of time at the free throw line in the closing minutes and made 11 of 18 in the quarter.
Orleans was called for 29 fouls and Trinity made 26 of 40 free throws for the afternoon. Orleans shot 11 for 19 at the line for the game.
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Abby Hackman made all 6 of her free throws in the fourth, 9 of 10 for the game, and led all players with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Cougars coach Mike Lang credited her play inside with one of the keys to the victory.
“Finding Abby in the post (was important),” he said. “Our guards seeing her in the post and letting her go to work. She finished with 17 points, she got to the free throw line 10 times. It’s not only that, she did well for us on the rebounds.
“That was our key and that has to be our focal point moving forward because she’s a valuable player for us. She opens the outside up.”
Both teams were cold from the floor in the opening period, combining for only seven field goals.
Hackman, Harweger and Morgan Gabbard made the shots for the Cougars as they trailed 10-8 going into the second period.
Gabbard made basket and four free throws, Harweger made a basket and one free throw, and Hackman added two free throws as the Cougars went on an 11-0 run to take a 19-10 lead with 4:05 on the clock.
After the Bulldogs scored a basket, and Laney Acton added two free throws for the Cougars. Trinity went cold the remainder of half as Orleans rallied to tie the game at 21 at the break.
The Cougars worked the ball inside two Hackman in the third period and she responded with three goals and a free throw, and Gabbard added a 3-pointer to spark the Cougars to a 36-34 lead after three quarters.
Lang had mixed feelings about Trinity’s defense.
He felt it did a good job at times as Orleans committed 18 turnovers, but the Cougars were called for more fouls (18) than he would have liked.
“It was kind of bittersweet a little bit with the pressure D,” he said “We created some turnovers out of it, then again we lost our minds a few times and we got too far up with it, we didn’t have rotations and they got some easy buckets. Then our foul trouble in the first half allowed them to get back into the game.
We need to play smarter and not get ourselves into foul trouble because our bench is thin right now without Piper (Acton). We’re hoping to have her back for the Toby Yoho (Tournament at Eastern Greene Dec. 26 and 27).”
Piper Acton is sidelined with a concussion.
Gabbard finished with 12 points and Harwager 10. Caitlin Rutherford and Jacqulin Gerkin topped the Bulldogs with 12 apiece.
Lang said he felt like Laney Acton and Savanna Setty played some good minutes coming off the bench.
“Savanna did a great job defensively,” he said. “It’s a bad thing sometimes when you’ve got a JV game. She’s a kid I’d like to see get more minutes.”
Trinity has won back-to-back games heading to Austin on Tuesday night.
Lang likes the improvement in his team.
“Going into the season we knew we had to find a couple new scorers and I think we’ve done that, but now when you have another important missing piece it’s a chance for other players to step up and I think they’ve done that the last couple games,” Lang said.
“I’m really proud of this group, how they’ve played this week and we’ve got to carry it over to Austin because that’s going to be a tough road game for us.”