Packer girls run past Scarlets

Published 11:25 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

Austin's Jenna Svoboda turns and shoots Friday night during the first half against Mankato West in Ove Berven Gym. - Eric Johnson/

The Packer girls basketball team is starting to play fast, and it’s working for them.

Austin used an up-tempo attack on offense and defense as it had a season-high scoring outburst in a 77-63 win over Mankato West (3-11 overall, 2-4 Big Nine) in Ove Berven Gym Friday.

“It’ s been a while since we’ve beaten West, although we’ve had some close games with them,” Austin head coach Gary Peterson said. “We wanted to keep some momentum going.”

Austin's Taylor Lady passes around Mankato West's Lexi Schoper during the first half Friday night in Ove Berven Gym. - Eric Johnson/

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The Packers (5-6 overall, 2-3 Big Nine) have now won four games in a row and senior Babaye Oja has been a big part of that run as she’s scored at least 19 points in the last three games. On Friday, Oja finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and two steals.

She credits the tempo with her success.

“Our fast break is our offense and we want to keep it going. (On defense) I think we love pressing,” Oja said.

The Scarlets pulled to within 63-57 when Kenzie Franke knocked down a three with 1:56 left, but Austin hit all six of its free throws down the stretch and Taylor Lady and Oja both got free for breakaways to seal the game.

The girls did a great job at the end,” Peterson said. “I didn’t call (for the breakaways), but they kind of read that West pressing on defense and they hit those two long passes.”

Lady scored 15 points, Steph Justice scored 14 and Jenna Svoboda had nine points and eight rebounds for Austin, which closed the first half on a 7-1 run.

The Scarlets never got closer than five in the second half.

Austin lost six of its first seven games, but it hasn’t lost since the Christmas break.

“After break, we just told ourselves that we need to push it and it’s a new start,” Oja said.

Austin's Babaye Oja pressured Mankato West's Kenzie Franke as Franke tried to pass inside Friday night during the first half in Ove Berven Gym. - Eric Johnson/

West 29 34 — 63

Austin 39 38 — 77

Austin scoring: Babaye Oja, 24; Taylor Lady, 15; Steph Justice, 14; Jenna Svoboda, 9; Marwa Omot, 6; Danielle Tschann, 4; Merideth Fritz, 4; Alex Hanson, 1; field goals: 35 percent (28-for-80); three-pointers: 25 percent (2-for-8); free throws: 65.5 percent (19-for-29); rebounds: 43 (Oja, 17; Svoboda, 8); turnovers: 24

West scoring: Cara Christiansen, 25; Kenzie Frankie, 10; Jessica Goerger, 8; Malorie Veroeven, 8; Lauren Resner, 7; Maddy Burandt, 3; Lexi Schoper, 2; field goals: 40.3 percent (25-for-62); three-pointers: 23.5 percent (4-for-17); free throws: 50 percent (13-for-26); rebounds: 37 (Christiansen, 15); turnovers: 26