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Riverland women stretch winning streak

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FERGUS FALLS — The Riverland women’s basketball team is now on a winning streak after sweeping the season series from Fergus Falls on Wednesday.

Anna Havumaki made a pair of free throws with five seconds left in overtime to give Riverland a 72-71 win. This was the second straight win for the Lady Devils and their first on the road in nearly two months.

The Riverland women are starting to hit their stride in the second half of the season as they’ve now won three of the last four games.

Although this win didn’t count in the Minnesota Community College Conference, South Division standings, because of an ineligible player on the Fergus Falls roster, it was still hotly contested right down to the wire.

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"This was a huge win," Riverland coach Suzy Hebrink said. "We overcame foul trouble and battled with them the whole way. Those were a couple of big free throws by Anna at the end. Our kids just played a great game."

Brittany Quistorff, who didn’t play in the first meeting between the two teams in Austin, brought Fergus Falls back at the end of regulation. Quistorff hit two treys in the final minute, and Jessica Garrett hit a free throw with five seconds left to tie the game 64-64 to end regulation.

In the overtime, the Lady Devils were behind by a point in the final seconds. Tibisa Thor then drove the lane, but missed a shot. Havumaki got the rebound and was fouled. After going 0-for-3 in her first trips to the free throw line on the night, Havumaki calmly stepped to the charity stripe and made them both to take the lead.

"We’ve been struggling at the free throw line, so I was very happy to see Anna make both of those attempts in overtime," Hebrink said. "We had nice scoring balance with four players in double figures. Anna really came through for us with 17 rebounds and five blocked shots to go along with 18 points."

The outside shooting of Nikki Lehnertz got the Lady Devils off to a fast start as she hit for a team-high 21 points. Thor added 16 points and a half-dozen assists. Tracee Crowley was also in double figures and made a trey in the win.

Lehnertz made four 3-pointers on the night and the visitors were off to a double-digit lead midway through the first half. Then, foul trouble began to plague Riverland and Fergus Falls got back to within six by halftime.

"They spent a lot of time at free throw line in the first half and cut into our lead," Hebrink said. "We played a poor first half with a lot of turnovers and were lucky to be up at halftime. Then, we came out and played better ball in the second half and overtime. The team is playing with a lot more confidence and there’s still some hope in the division race."

Riverland (4-16) plays host to Ridgewater on Saturday afternoon. This will be an MCCC South game and the Lady Devils are currently only one game out of fourth-place in the division, which is the spot needed for a state tournament berth. Riverland has three of the last four games at home.

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RIVERLAND 72, FERGUS FALLS 71

RIVERLAND (72)

Tibisa Thor 16, Tracee Crowley 11, Nikki Lehnertz 21, Laura Amundson 4, Heather Manahan 0, Kim Betsul 2, Anna Havumaki 18, Nyemal Chut 0.

FERGUS FALLS (71)

Jessica Garrett 11, Sam Martin 6, Ashley Ohren 29, Christen Robinson 8, Becky LeJeur 2, Brittany Quistorff 15.

Halftime score — Riverland 37, Fergus Falls 31.

End of regulation score — Riverland 64, Fergus Falls 64.

Three-pointers — RIV 7 (Lehnertz 4, Thor 2, Crowley 1). FF 3 (Quistorff 3).

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Free throws — RIV 15-21, FF 18-29.

Rebounds — RIV 40 (Havumaki 17), FF 41.

Turnovers — RIV 28, FF 18.

Fouled out — RIV, Crowley, Amundson.

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