Tuesday night featured the first conference matchup for both St. Olaf and Hamline. The Oles struggled to a slow start, with Elyse Erickson '09 draining a pair of free throws almost three minutes into the game for St. Olaf's first points.
Later in the first half, the Oles suffered a 6:26 scoreless drought, as they were unable to crack the Pipers defense. Nevertheless, Kelsey Oja '09 drilled a three-pointer with 1:17 left in the first half that drew the women within eight, making the score 29-21 at the break.
St. Olaf battled its way back into the game early in the second half, and drew within three points on two separate occasions. With just under 15 minutes to play, the women trailed 37-34. However, the Pipers drained three three-pointers coupled with a three-point-play with just 10 minutes remaining in the game to stretch Hamline's lead to 12 points.
Erickson led the Oles' offense with 16 points, shooting 3-for-9 from the floor and 10-for-12 from the free throw line. Erickson has paced St. Olaf's scoring in each of its four games so far this season. Oja tacked on 11 points of her own while Kristina Stoermer '08 pulled in a team-high eight rebounds.
Hamline relied on their perimeter shooting, firing a solid 35 percent from beyond the three-point arc, compared to St. Olaf's 16.7 percent from the outside. The Pipers also shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, making 14 of 28 baskets.
"The game was not played with the type of intensity that we practice & or that we expect of ourselves," Erickson said. "We need to be more consistent and play to win and not to lose."
The previous night saw the Oles post a positive result against Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn. Again, Erickson paced the offense with 19 points, shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the field. First-year guard Jamie Erdahl added 11 points, dropping in two three-pointers, and posted a team-high eight steals against the Knights.
Forwards Kristina and Danielle Stoermer '08 each hauled in eight rebounds and tacked on nine and eight points respectively on offense. Tasha Mrosak '10 provided quality minutes off the bench, racking up four assists and four steals in 25 minutes of action.
The Oles led by just four points at half time, but enjoyed a strong second-half team performance where they outscored the Knights 32-14.
The women shot a combined 40.8 percent from the field but struggled to find their touch from the line, making just 14- of-25 free throws. But a stingy St. Olaf defense effort held the Knights to just 35 points to secure the first win of the season.
Erickson, who is playing in her first collegiate basketball season, remains optimistic about this year's team. "We have so much potential and great team chemistry," Erickson said. "We just need to put it all together and then we can start dominating."
The women, with a 1-3 overall record and an 0-1 mark in the MIAC, look to do just that as they resume conference play on Monday. St. Olaf will travel to Moorhead to face the Concordia Cobbers, who are currently 0-2 but ranked fourth in the MIAC preseason poll. The Oles ranked ninth in the same poll. Tip-off is set for 5:45 p.m.