by Thor Thompson
The Dragon women came out shooting against the Bemidji State Beavers Saturday night, hitting 12 of their first 14 shots.
On the way to a record 15 3-pointers, MSUM jumped to a 31-10 lead after nine minutes. However, BSU didn’t give in that easily.
“I think what happened is the starters came out with good energy and hit shots,” MSUM head coach Karla Nelson said. “The bench came in with good energy and hit shots, we went back to the starters and then from there it went all downhill.”
The Dragon’s shooting started to cool down while BSU started to hit some of their own shots from behind the arc.
The Beavers, lead by Sierra Senske’s 23 points, cut the defecit to five with five minutes remaining in the first half, but didn’t manage to overtake the Dragons heading into halftime.
Nelson gave BSU credit, though.
“I thought Bemidji kept playing and knocking shots down. In some ways it just reminded me of a good old-fashioned pick up game, not a lot of defense.”
The Dragons started the second half on a 21-11 run, and never looked back.
A big part of the success was due to the hot shooting of sophomore guard Morgan Banasik (20 points, 4-7 from 3-point range), junior guard Meghan Roehrich (20 points, 8-13 shooting) and an inside presence from forward/center Savanna Handevidt (14 points on 6-8 shooting).
Banasik said the key to her shooting was simple: confidence.
“I hit my first one, and I just kind of knew it was on, so I just kept shooting.”
Besides the record amount of 3-pointers, MSUM also set high marks for the season in points (94), assists (24) and field-goal percentage (51.5).
All of this coincides with Nelson’s 250th career win.
Even with all the positives on offense, Nelson wasn’t completely satisfied with her team’s performance.
“I definitely think we have to get back to rebounding the ball a lot better than what we are right now,” she said. “[We’re] giving up a lot of second chance opportunities to teams. We did that a lot tonight and last night.”
Playing with a big lead also gives the Dragons a chance to develop their younger bench players.
“Right now we’re young, and any kind of minutes they can get is probably a good thing,” Nelson said. “Two minutes can turn into five, five to 10 and 10 to 20. I just try to stress that you need to keep your intensity up. It’s important to get those freshmen minutes, because we’re going to need them.”
Looking ahead in the season, MSUM has eight games remaining before the NSIC tournament, including two big matchups with Concordia-St. Paul and MSU-Mankato next weekend.
“We have two huge games this weekend and like coach said we’re going to practice rebounding all week, and that’s really going to be stressed,” Banasik said.
The Dragon women will look to continue the inside-out game on offense. According to Handevidt, that’s what gets them open for clean looks beyond the arc, whether it be for guards or post players.
“We’re kind of a double threat team,” Handevidt said.
MSUM will set out to prove that this weekend with a couple of conference matchups.