Fouls plague Craig girls in loss to Middleton
Unfortunately for the feisty Cougars, 31 personal fouls and two first-quarter technical fouls led to 39 Cardinal free throw attempts and a 74-65 Middleton victory in a Big Eight Conference thriller.
Craig’s loss snaps its five-game winning streak and drops them to 5-4 in the Big Eight, two games behind second-place Middleton
Meanwhile, Middleton (10-3, 8-1) moves to within a half-game of first place Janesville Parker (8-1) in the conference race.
“I thought our kids played really hard tonight considering that we lost 81-43 the first time we played these guys,” Craig coach Marsden said. “Giving them (Middleton) 39 free throws on our home floor and still staying within a basket until we had to foul at the end was a good job.”
The Cougars not only kept the game close throughout the game, but also drew even at 61-61 on two Whitney Storbakken free throws with 2:40 to play.
Middleton, however, grabbed hold of the lead for good on the ensuing possession when JoLyn Owen pierced the Cougar defense with three-point play.
Lauren Gunderson then nailed a runner down the lane, and Kate Kessenich sank two clutch free throws, to put the Cardinals ahead 68-61 with 1:21 to play. The Cougars never drew closer than six the rest of the way.
“Its always a battle down here,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “Both teams had some adversity, but in the end we kept our composure.
The Cardinals had little trouble keeping its composure with Gunderson scoring 16 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. Kessenich also chipped in 18 for the Cardinals.
“We feel like we could have won this game against one of the best teams in the state,” Marsden said. “So we are feeling just fine.”
The feeling wasn’t mutual for the Cougar bench in the first quarter. Craig drew two early first quarter technical fouls that sprung an 11-0 Middleton spurt and a 12-7 first quarter advantage.
“I’m disappointed with the way things started,” Marsden said of the technical fouls. “But we overcame that and just kept playing, which is what we had to do.”
The Cardinals eventually built its advantage to 34-23 late in the first half before Danielle Straw and Strobakken ignited the crowd with a pair of three-pointers that cut the deficit to 34-29 at halftime.
Storbakken and Straw each had a team-high 20 points for the Cougars.
Straw tacked on eight more third quarter points to cut the Cardinal lead to just 48-46 after three quarters.
Craig tied the game three times in the fourth quarter, before falling short in the final minutes.
MIDDLETON 74, JANESVILLE CRAIG 65
Middleton (74)—Gunderson, 8-8-24; Owen, 3-2-8; Larson, 0-1-1; Newman, 2-2-8; Kessenich, 3-10-18; Simon, 2-2-6; Bond, 4-1-9. Totals: 22-26-74.
Craig (65)—Benson, 2-5-9; Storbakken, 6-4-20; Straw, 7-1-20; Hilden, 3-0-6; McQueen, 1-1-3; Morgan, 2-2-4; Sanchez, 1-0-3. Totals: 21-13-65.
Middleton 15 19 14 26—74
Janesville Craig 14 15 17 19—65
Three-point goals—Middleton 4 (Newman 2, Kessenich 2), Craig 10 (Storbakken 5, Straw 4, Sanchez). Free throws missed—Middleton 13, Craig 10. Total fouls—Middleton 20, Craig 31. Fouled out—Larsen, Hilden, Benson.