BRISTOL â€• The threes rained from all over as St. Paul girls basketball punched its ticket to its first state semifinal game since 2019.
The fifth-seeded Falcons defeated 13th-seeded Northwestern 61-36 on Monday night to advance to the Class MM Semifinals on Friday. They will face the winner of top-seeded Sacred Heart Academy and ninth-seeded Berlin at an undetermined neutral site.
St. Paul controlled the game early with defense and built an early lead it never relinquished behind 20 points and seven rebounds from junior Nadia Riemer, who hit six three-pointers in the contest. Senior captain Zoey Rubins connected twice from long range and finished with 11 points and five assists as the Falcons surpassed their predecessors from 2019, who never got to play their quarterfinal game two years ago.
Despite going back and forth early on, the Falcons dominated most of the first half and led by 19 points at the break. Riemer drilled two three-pointers in each of the opening quarters, leading her team with 14 early points.
â€ś[Making threes] makes my whole entire offense and defense improve,â€ť Riemer said. â€śI feel like if Iâ€™m doing great on offense, it gives me more [energy] to play well on defense.â€ť
St. Paulâ€™s offensive performance was bolstered by its defense, nearly tripling its seven-point lead from the first quarter. The Falcons limited Northwestern to six points in the second quarter while hitting five threes to build a hefty lead.
Riemer did not score in the third quarter and St. Paulâ€™s offense sputtered somewhat, but the team benefited from its sizable cushion to stay in front by 15. Northwestern freshman Madelyn Topa lived at the free-throw line for the entire game and made five shots from the stripe in the third period to help the Highlanders gain four points back on the Falcons.
Topa led her team with 19 points and made 13 foul shots while only one of her teammates went to the line.
â€śShe was going to score so we wanted to make them work for every point they got,â€ť St. Paul head coach Joe Mone said. â€śI thought we did a good job of rebounding for most of the game, that was one of the keys. Give them one shot and then letâ€™s run. I donâ€™t know if we ran very successfully like we could have, but the energy of the game, thereâ€™s a lot of people and you can get caught up in all that excitement.â€ť
St. Paul returned to form to close the final eight minutes of the game, as Rimer made two more threes while freshman Izzy Leggett had a seven-point spurt on three consecutive shots. Senior captain Rubins added her second triple of the day to finish with 11 points while feeding the ball into tight spaces for her five assists.
â€śI was just trying to get the ball in the hoop,â€ť Rubins said. â€śI wanted the assist so I could get back on defense and keep going.â€ť
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.
ST. PAUL 61, Northwestern 36
At St. Paul
St. Paul 17 18 8 18 - 61
Northwestern 10 6 12 8 - 36
ST. PAUL: Nadia Riemer 7-0-20, Emily Ronalter 2-0-4, Kelsea Tefoe 1-0-2, Zoey Rubins 4-1-11 Audrey Tice 1-2-4, Izzy Leggett 4-0-9, Sarah Lindquist 1-0-2, Haileigh Orzel 1-0-3, Sam Naples 2-0-4, Abbey Stanford 1-0-2. Totals 24-3-61.
NORTHWESTERN: Morgan Plitt 3-0-7, Madelyn Topa 3-13-19, Eliza Austin 1-0-2, McKenna Galliher 2-0-4, Allyson Danilla 0-2-2, Bria Block 1-0-2. Totals 0-0-36.
Three-point goals: Riemer (SP) 6, Orzel (SP), Rubins (SP) 2, Plitt (N), Leggett (SP).
Records: St. Paul 18-5, Northwestern 14-10.