Dennewitz and Coenen lead Lakeland to critical win against Marian

Danny Spatchek, Managing Editor

The Lakeland women’s basketball team snapped a three game losing streak by reeling off two straight home wins against Northern Athletic Conference opponents Aurora and Marian last week.

The women cruised to a 59-47 win over Aurora on Jan. 22 driven by a 16 point, nine steal performance by junior point guard Becca Tilleman.

Lakeland improved to 4-6 in the NAC North while the weekend loss was just one of many this season for 1-9 Aurora, the NAC South’s cellar team.

Lakeland trailed the visitors early in the first half before rattling off a 16-0 run to go up 20-9 just after the ten minute mark and grabbing a 28-18 halftime lead.

Spartan center Michelle Perry, who had a game-high 19 points and eleven rebounds, pulled the visitors within eight of the Muskies to start the second half, but junior forward Alyssa Schuttenhelm answered with a three-pointer, and Aurora never threatened Lakeland’s lead again.

Lakeland’s defense harassed the Spartans all day, forcing them into 15 turnovers and 35 percent shooting from the field, including 22 percent from three point land. Lakeland shot 37 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc.

Senior guard Chelsea Coenen had an eleven-point, eight-rebound line while freshman guard Aimee Thrune chipped in eight points.

“We played a complete game today and we were able to take them out of their rhythm,” women’s basketball coach Teri Johnson said. “Becca Tilleman had an outstanding game, probably one of the most complete games of her career. Her intensity on the defensive end is something we depend on and today she was solid on defense and elevated the team’s play.”

On Jan. 19 Lakeland squeaked out a crucial 67-61 win against division rival Marian. As of Sunday the Muskies were within a game of the Sabres in the chase for the fourth and last playoff spot in the NAC North.

Coenen scored 13 points and had five rebounds to lead Lakeland in a game that was close throughout.

The Muskies built a 35-25 lead going into intermission and had extended it to 53-35 with 12:19 remaining in the second half, but Marion reeled off a 25-7 run and tied the game with just over five minutes remaining. Coenen then rattled off two clutch jumpers, and in the game’s waning moments, Lakeland did just enough from the charity stripe to preserve the victory.

Junior forward Allison Davis had a ten-point, ten-rebound double-double and senior guard Mary Dennewitz and Schuttenhelm each contributed eight for a Lakeland team that shot 35 percent from the field for the game. The Sabres shot 33 percent from the field.

“We were just a more focused team,” Johnson said of her team’s performance in the win. “I think getting Mary [Dennewitz] back after we’ve been missing her for about three games gave us some additional scoring that we were missing. We had a great first half, very patient on offense. Defensively I felt like we had the energy to get some big stops. In the second half, I would’ve looked for us to settle down a little bit more on offense, but overall it was just our execution in the first half that gave us some confidence.”

“To qualify for the NAC tournament we will have to have some more solid wins,” Dennewitz said. “We need to step up and shoot much better, especially against much tougher opponents like Wisconsin Luthern, Wisconsin-Concordia, and Edgewood. If we can upset some of these teams I believe we can possibly qualify for the NAC tournament.”

Johnson said she tried to motivate her team in different ways over the break, seeking the advice of other Lakeland coaches including Athletic Director Jane Bouche, and moving them from their traditional locker room to one near the back of the Wehr Center Jan. 6.

“We need to have more individual workouts, more people coming in to make us better outside of practice,” she said. “I think that’s a life lesson for anybody. You go to your job nine to five but sometimes you have to put the work in outside of that environment. Things don’t come easy all the time in life and you have to step up to those occasions.”

Johnson said the team moved back to their old locker room Jan. 21.

She said the team’s move back “has nothing to do with winning or losing. I told them it has to deal with progress and rewarding that progress a little bit. The bigger focus is on motivation, on competitiveness in practice. So as a coach, you just continue to look at things to try to get a spark, or a rise out of your team.”

The team traveled to Alverno Jan. 25, and will play Saturday in Milwaukee against MSOE.