Vikings pull away late to top Finlandia

Lawrence women's basketball action Erin Hill, Liz Jonjak, Kenya Earl
Lawrence posted a 78-68 victory over Finlandia.

APPLETON, Wis. -- The Lawrence University women's basketball team pulled away in the final four minutes Wednesday to post a 78-68 nonconference victory over Finlandia University at Alexander Gymnasium.

The Vikings trailed by one before taking the lead with less than four minutes left and then hit some key shots down the stretch to seal the victory.

Kenya Earl posted a double-double for the second consecutive game for Lawrence (2-0) as she hit game highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Erin Hill added 15 points, a game-high five assists and four rebounds for the Vikings.

Shonell Benjamin shook off a foul-plagued first half to score 10 points, grab four rebounds and hand out four assists for Lawrence. Karina Herrera filled the void when Benjamin was on the bench as she scored nine points and snatched six rebounds in 11 minutes.

Lawrence trailed 33-29 at the half, but the Vikings used a strong third quarter to grab a 54-48 lead after three. Finlandia (1-4) battled back and opened the fourth quarter on a 15-8 run to take a 63-62 lead with 5:17 left.

After an exhange of possessions, Lawrence got the lead back at 64-63 on a pair of Earl free throws with 3:25 remaining. After a Finlandia turnover, Earl came back with a layup to put the Vikings up 66-63. Another Finlandia turnover put the ball in Earl's hands and she hit two more free throws with 2:54 remaining for a 68-63 edge.

Casana Ryyanen countered with a 3-pointer for the Lions, but Benjamin went to the foul line and knocked down two free throws to give the Vikings a 70-66 lead with 2:31 left. Benjamin came up with a steal on the ensuing possession, and rookie guard KJ Davis hit a jumper to put Lawrence up 72-66.

The Lions closed to 72-68, but another first-year player, Delaney Brooks, got loose in the paint for a layup and a 74-68 Lawrence lead with 1:35 left. Finlandia missed its next three shots from the floor to seal its fate.

Mariah Austin and Cassyn Osterman scored 14 points apiece to pace Finlandia.

Lawrence is off to its first 2-0 start since the 2016-17 season.