Essa Jacobsen wasn’t brought in to be a scorer.
While coach Jon Kreiner was aware his rookie pivot had the capability of putting the ball in the net, he was more interested in her ability to haul in rebounds.
On Saturday the Grand Marais, Minn. freshman did both, collecting 16 points and grabbing nine boards, one short of an impressive double-double, helping the Lakehead Thunderwolves stay perfect in pre-season CIS women’s basketball play.
Veteran Ayse Kalkan added nine points and a team-high 14 rebounds, leading LU to a 66-61, come-from-behind win over the Manitoba Bisons, wrapping up the Zanatta Invitational with three wins in three outings.
“I just sealed good and today I guess the team was looking for me,” Jacobsen said. “I just finished tonight.”
It was Jacobsen who helped turn things around for the Wolves late in the third.
LU struggled mightily in the opening half shooting the ball, sinking just nine of 37 shots from the field and trailed 37-33, despite an 11-1 advantage on the offensive glass.
Down 43-41, Jacobsen went to the line, hit a pair of free-throws, then wrapped up the third with back-to-back buckets that put the Thunderwolves ahead 47-45 after 30 minutes.
“I think I was feeling a little more pressure about my free throws. I wasn’t making them in the first half. I didn’t really think about it and I started making them in the second half. That’s when I got my confidence,” Jacobsen said.
“I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m improving each game and our team is improving each game.”
Coach Jon Kreiner said seeing what Jacobsen can bring to the table is good to know a month before the regular season is set to begin.
“We learned we’ve got a post that can be not to bad, in Essa, and how to keep getting the ball into there in different ways,” Kreiner said.
“We didn’t bring her in as a scorer. We brought her in for her toughness and her rebounding. But from all the video we watched, I knew she could score. She’s going to have a little difficult time when her right hand is taken from her. We’ve got to work on her left hand a little bit.”
Overall from the post position, Kreiner likes what he sees.
“We’ve done a much better job this year than we normally do, even though (Essa) is undersized,” he said.
Lakehead took a five-point lead late midway through the fourth, but the Bisons battled back, tying the game 58-58 with four minutes to go on a Jenilyn Monton three-pointer. But after Lindsay Inkila sank one of three free throws to put LU in front, they never looked back.
Inkila provided the necessary insurance with a three that pushed the lead to six with less than 30 seconds to play.
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