HIBBING — The Hibbing Community College women’s basketball team needed the win, and the Cardinals picked the right time to play one of their better games of the season.
Hibbing jumped out on Northland for a 33-15 first-quarter lead, then the Cardinals cruised to an 85-59 MCAC Northern Division victory over the Pioneers Saturday at Cardinal Gymnasium.
With the win, Hibbing and Northland are now tied for first in the conference with 11-1 records. The Cardinals have four games remaining against Itasca, Mesabi Range, Fond du Lac and Vermilion.
“We have to take care of business down the stretch in the next two weeks, and if it ends up tied, we’ll have a coin flip to decide who hosts the Region XIII Tournament,” Hibbing coach Kate Brau said. “We had to win in order for us to have a chance to host the tournament.
“It had to happen, and our players knew that. They rose to the occasion.”
Both teams played Friday night, but Brau knew her team would have the advantage because the Pioneers were on the road.
“They had some jet lag in that matter, so we wanted to make sure we jumped on them right away,” Brau said. “Our pressure did that. That was important because Northland has a great team.
“We’ve seen them down in games by 20, and they come back to win. Until that final buzzer sounded, we didn’t believe it was over.”
At one point in the second quarter, Hibbing did get up by 30, and Northland was only able to cut that deficit to 26 at the half.
“The two keys were that we did a great job defending their bigs,” Brau said. “We held them to some of their lowest outputs of the season. We got stops, rebounds and we ran. We attacked in transition, and we were able to maintain that lead the whole game.”
The Cardinals had a mild letdown in the third quarter, but they still led by 20 heading into the fourth quarter.
“They switched defenses (a 2-3 zone), and that put us on our heels,” Brau said. “We needed to get back to attacking in transition.”
Hibbing was able to do that and outscored the Pioneers 21-15 to get that all-important victory.
“We did a great job managing the clock down the stretch,” Brau said. “We were patient, and we had good shot selection. That’s what allowed us to win the game.”
Bethany Baldwin led Hibbing once again, with 32 points. Hannah Morris had 13, Sherea’ Cherenfant and Alexis Desjarlait each had 10, Shauna Kavajcez nine and Klaryssa Whelan 8.
Northland was led by Janie Wunderlich with 22 points. Brooke Heggie had 14.
NCC 15 10 19 15 — 59
HCC 33 18 13 21 — 85
Northland: Ashley Moe 2, Janie Wunderlich 22, Jozi Halvorson 2, Carly Mekash 2, Brooke Heggie 14, Hannah Dietsch 8, Bailey Greene 3, Mya Hough 6.
Hibbing: Sherea’ Cherenfant 10, Bethany Baldwin 32, Alexis Desjarlait 10, Hannah Morris 13, Shauna Kavajcez 9,Stacie Lokken 3, Klaryssa Whelan 8
Total Fouls: Northland 14; Hibbing 15; Fouled Out: Halverson; Free Throws: Northland 13-20; Hibbing 7-14; 3-pointers: Wunderlich 2, Cherenfant, Baldwin 2, Desjarlait, Kavajcez, Lokken, Whelan 2.