Packer girls edge out Huskies for 4th straight win

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ever since the winter break, the Austin girls basketball team has been a different team.

After losing its last seven contests before the break, the Packers have now won four straight after they edged out Owatonna 51-48 in Ove Berven Gym Tuesday.

Austin's Ruth Koang goes up for a shot against Owatonna in Packer Gym Monday. -- Rocky Hulne/

Austin’s Ruth Koang goes up for a shot against Owatonna in Packer Gym Monday. — Rocky Hulne/

The Packers (5-7 overall, 5-5 Big Nine) took the lead for good when Alex Hansen drew a foul with 20.5 seconds left and she made one of two free throws to put Austin up 49-48. Austin was able to get an offensive rebound on the missed free throw and Sydney Murphy knocked down two more more free throws with 16 seconds left to give Austin a 51-48 lead.

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Owatonna’s Maddie Zulk missed a contested 3-pointer for the Huskies (5-7 overall, 5-4 Big Nine) as time expired.

“At the start of the season we were losing those close games. We told the girls that we’ve got to keep battling and if we just start to play with some character and poise, those things will turn around for us,” Austin head coach Todd Johnson said. “The kids made some clutch free throws and some defensive stops down the stretch and that was huge.”

The Packers jumped out to a 16-4 lead to open the game, but the Huskies used a 10-0 run to get back in the game and it was tied 22-22 at the half. In the second half, the Packers stayed in the paint on offense as Rugh Koang scored Austin’s first 10 points of the half. Koang finished with 18 points.

When Austin finally did go outside, Sydney Murphy hit a big 3-pointer from the wing to make it 43-39 Austin with 4:01 left. Shayley Vesel also hit a key lay-up to put Austin up 47-45 with 1:35 left in the game.

“We do have a size advantage with Ruth and that’s what we were looking for,” Johnson said. “Our kids believe they can do this right now. The kids have been fantastic and we had some good practices over break.”

Owatonna 22 26 — 48

Austin 22 29 — 51

Austin scoring: Ruth Koang, 18; Shayley Vesel, 15; Sydney Murphy, 11; Awenia Nywesh, 4; Alex Hansen, 3; free throws: 52 percent (11-for-21)