Angels pounce on Scarlet Hawks, secure first win of season

Release Courtesy of Mount Mary Athletics

MILWAUKEE – A season-high five players recorded double-figure scoring, as the Mount Mary University basketball team seized its first win of the season with a 77-58 victory over Illinois Institute of Technology Wednesday night at the Bloechl Center.

The Blue Angels' offensive balance, paired with several long scoring runs in each half snapped their season-opening losing streak and handed first-year head coach Marc Heidorf his first coaching victory at Mount Mary.

"I'm very proud of our resiliency tonight," Heidorf said. "There were two times where momentum was clearly against us and we were able to battle back at the end of each half with a decisive run."

Sophomore guard Yolanda Coleman (Wauwatosa, Wis.) played her best game of the year, tallying 16 points, nine assists, two steals and two rebounds in guiding the Angels to their first win of the season.

Senior forward Ashley Leverenz (Mauston, Wis.) recorded her second straight double-double and fifth overall of the year with 21 points and 15 rebounds—12 of which coming on the offensive glass. Her five steals was also a season-high.

Freshman forward Taylor Baumgart (Burlington, Wis.) added 17 points, senior guard Emily Barker (Oconomowoc, Wis.) had 13 and sophomore forward Donielle Yendriga (Conneaut, Ohio) notched 10 points marking the first time since the season opener that MMU had more than three players score in double-figures.

Facing a very early 4-2 deficit, Mount Mary surged into the lead on a 14-0 run midway through the first half behind easy baskets from Coleman, Barker, Leverenz and Baumgart. The Scarlet Hawks would respond, however, by closing the gap to six at 25-19 with just under two minutes remaining.

That's when Coleman took control, sinking a deep three-pointer and dishing out two assists as Mount Mary pounced to a 34-21 lead at the half.

The Angels carried the momentum through the halftime period, utilizing its size inside in the second half. Leverenz, who struggled to a 3-for-10 start and missed several easy looks inside, scored 14 of her 21 points in the second stanza alone—many of those looks created by the crafty Coleman.

"Yolanda, with her shooting and ball-handling in the final minutes of both halves, really put the offense on her back," Heidorf said. "And Ashley missed some shots early but I was proud of the fact she stayed in it mentally to come back and shoot 6-for-9 from the floor in the second half."

IIT slowly chipped away at Mount Mary's lead in the second half, closing to 55-48 on a Scarlet Hawk layup with just under six minutes remaining. However, the Blue Angels showed poise down the stretch, working the ball inside for high-percentage shots and closed on a 22-10 run to seal the 19-point victory.

Statistically, Mount Mary compiled its finest game of the year in several areas, including season-highs in points (77) and assists (17) while converting on a solid 43.1 percent of its field-goal attempts.

The Angels will have little time to celebrate Wednesday's victory, as they will take off early Thursday for a weekend tour of the north woods.

Mount Mary will look to exact revenge upon Northland College in Ashland, Wis., Thursday night, as the Lumberjills defeated MMU 66-51 on December 7 in Milwaukee. The Blue Angels will then follow along the shores of Lake Michigan for a Saturday afternoon battle against Finlandia University in Hancock, Mich. Game time against the Lions is slated for 1:00 p.m.