by Tomi Thompson
The MSUM Women’s Basketball team is entering tournament season with big goals ahead.
Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference/Sanford Health basketball tournament play kicks off Wednesday night.
The Dragon women and men are high seeds in the tournament, and host first round games at Nemzek.
The women take on Upper Iowa at 6 p.m., and the men play Wayne State at 8 p.m.
The Dragons defeated Upper Iowa on January 2, 71-67 in Moorhead.
A stellar performance from Heather Strese highlighted the win. The junior forward put up 24 points and snared 14 rebounds in the team’s previous match up.
Sharp shooting sophomore Morgan Banasik also added 16 points and will look to provide some scoring balance to Strese’s inside presence.
The women are ranked second in the NSIC North. They go into the playoffs with an overall 15-11 record and are 14-8 in the NSIC.
Upper Iowa is seeded seventh in the NSIC South division.
The theme of the playoff games is Glow Dragons. Two hundred and fifty glow-in-the-dark t-shirts will be given to fans. Other glow-in-the-dark accessories will be handed out at the game. Fans are encouraged to wear other glow-in-the-dark attire.
For lone senior Meghan Roehrich, this year will be her last tournament as a Dragon basketball player.
Roehrich said the team has been focused on their overall game and confidence as a team.
“We have been playing hard and together,” said Roehrich, “We have a goal of winning a championship”
When the season turns to playoff time, Roehrich said the element of teamwork keeps the women working hard physically and mentally.
“Knowing we have each others’ backs, and knowing how strong our friendships are on our team makes it easier to keep going and keep playing for each other at the end of the year” she said.
Roehrich said the team is more than a group of girls playing basketball together; their friendship off the court strengthens their game time performance.
“I love coming to practice and games knowing that I get to play with my best friends,” Roehrich said. “I think that we have an advantage over other teams because our bond of friendship is so strong. That’s what makes a good team.”
MSUM is 9-15 all-time in the conference tournament, and is one of only three teams to qualify for all 16 NSIC tournaments.
If they win the Dragon women would advance to the second round of the tournament at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. The second-round match up would pit them against the winner of Winona State (#3 in the NSIC South) vs. the University of Mary (#6 in the NSIC North).