Women’s basketball handles Cardinals, looks forward


Noah Riccardi, Sports Editor

Last season for women’s basketball did not end as hoped. This year, the Scots aim to continue their improvement and look to the playoffs. 

In 2021-22, Macalester Women’s basketball squad looked to improve from a 1-24 record in the last full season they had played (2019-20). They got off to a good start, as the Scots had an 8-8 record to start off the season, then dropped 10 straight in-conference games to end with an 8-18 record, going 6-16 in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) play. 

Head Coach Katie Kollar is optimistic about the fresh start in 2022-23. 

On moving on from the tough finish and starting fresh in the new season, Kollar said, “I think the cool thing about sports is that every year is a new year. I think we learned a lot last year as a team… I think it’s more of what lessons you get out of every season, and how do you take that and move forward.”

That final record showed improvement over recent years, but was nevertheless disappointing. This season, the Scots hope to continue to improve further and look to make the playoffs.

“Our whole team set a goal of making the MIAC playoffs this year, that’s our big, audacious goal, and I think we have every ability to reach that … We need to show up every night to make that happen, but those are our hopes and aspirations for the season,” Kollar said

After a tough loss after a bad matchup with Chapman University opened the season, these 2022-23 Scots battled the University of Redlands and showcased their potential. Against a strong Redlands team that received votes for NCAA Division III ranking in a coaches’ poll, Macalester fought well. They closed out the second quarter with a 13-1 run to take a lead into the half. The Scots held their own, taking their formidable opponent to overtime in an impressive showing. Although in the extra period they ran out of steam and fell 72-79, it was a demonstration of what this team can do. 

Every Scot to see the floor against Redlands scored points in the game, a show of the team’s depth and cohesion, one of their many strengths that they will rely on to win them their games. 

“We play our best basketball when we have four players in double figures [for scoring], so we really want to move the ball and share it, assists are really great, that’s what we’re looking to continue to do,” Kollar said.

In a return to St. Paul, Macalester battled through a close-fought first half against University of Northwestern (MN) and then pulled away in the third quarter, eventually earning their first win, 71-59. It was another standout game for combo guard/forward Peyton Starks ’25 with 26 points, along with forward Emma LaFrenz ’23, who bagged 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. 

Starks has been prolific in this start to the season, routinely putting up impressive scoring totals and often leading the team. LaFrenz has also played well, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and her leadership as one of the two seniors has been able to guide the team. 

In their home opener and first test against a MIAC opponent on Nov. 19, the Scots were locked in a defensive slog against Augsburg University. Both sides struggled to hit their shots — the combined shooting percentage for the game was 30.6 — and the Macalester offense only came alive late in the game, where they were able to cut down on the Auggie lead, but could not close the gap. Despite the loss, LaFrenz and Starks both earned double-doubles, scoring 10 points each and pulling down 13 and 12 rebounds respectively.

In their next game on Nov. 22 against MIAC foe Saint Mary’s University (Minn.), the Scots once again battled through a close first half, but behind tough team defense and a big night from guard Nicole Norton ’25, they pulled away to win 72-56.

The Scots shooting was on point in the first quarter, going 8-14 from the field. They went back and forth with the Cardinals through the first half, with a series of tough defensive plays defining the second quarter — in a stretch of just over two minutes in the second quarter, LaFrenz swatted three blocks, a span that highlighted a performance that named her the MIAC Defensive Player of the Week. 

In the second half, the Scots went down slightly before a Starks 3-pointer triggered a 12-0 run to deliver Macalester to a lead they would not relinquish. Forward Ellie Corbett ’26 came into the game and splashed a 3-pointer to push the lead to 10 in the third and to cap off the scoring run.

In the fourth quarter, St. Mary’s tried to fight back into the game, but a 14-5 run, highlighted by threes from guards Solana Cushing ’23 and Andrea Palmen ’24, shut the door on the Cardinals.

In a game where the Scots were short handed, only utilizing 8 players over the course of the game, a hard-fought win against the Cardinals — who beat the Scots in the Leonard Center early in the 2021-22 season — became a statement, and hopefully a sign of things to come. 

“[The win against Saint Mary’s] was a ‘we belong here’ moment, as in ‘we can do this and we can compete,’ so I think that was really awesome and a great way to go out into [Thanksgiving] break as well,” Kollar said. “It’s always better to walk out for a couple days with a win.”

On Nov. 30, the Scots traveled to face St. Catherine University, and despite a 21-point, 16-rebound double-double night from LaFrenz, they fell 52-68.

Behind production from each member of a squad with great depth, these Scots will rely on their ball movement and tough defense in the paint, as well as their cohesion and ability to play as a unit. 

“We have a really great group, [and] more importantly than basketball, we have a really great group of humans,” Kollar said. “All 14 people are a blast to be around, and my staff have been awesome. It’s fun to go to practice every day with this group, we’ve got a fun group.”

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