Dragons use exhibition to prep for new year

by Trent Zbichorski

zbichorstr@mnstate.edu

The MSUM women’s basketball team started the season off with a win after defeating St. Catherine University 77-59.

Junior guard Morgan Banasik led the way for the Dragons’ offense by putting up 15 points. Freshman forward Madison Brekke finished the game with eight.

“I thought we did a good job of moving the ball on the offense for the most part,” Brekke said. “We did a good job of working as a team.”

The Dragons managed to turn over the ball just 11 times, as opposed to the 26 turnovers the Wildcats had in the game.

MSUM led St. Kate’s 36-31 at halftime. The Dragons entered the third quarter with the lead and never looked back.

“We played really well together,” said senior forward Savanna Handevidt. “But there’s a lot we need to work on — like energy and playing for each other.”

The Dragons went 31-of-67 for the game, shooting at 46.3 percent, while St. Kate shot at 50 percent and went 22-of-44.

MSUM opens the 2015 – 2016 regular season by traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the D2 Vegas Showdown. The Dragons take on Northwest Nazarene Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. CDT. The team also faces Central Missouri at 10:30 a.m. the following day.

“It’s a good starting point just to kind of get a game under our feet before we play the number eight team in the nation,” Handevidt said.

The Dragon women were selected to finish seventh in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and third in the North division after St. Cloud State and Minnesota Crookston.

MSUM returns four starters from a year ago — including senior forward Heather Strese, who led the team in rebounding (7.1 rebounds per game) and was second in scoring (12.1 points per game). The other returning starters  are senior forward Savanna Handevidt and junior guards Natalie Van Whye and Morgan Banasik, who add to the experienced starting line-up.

The one starter missing is last year’s leading scorer and all-NSIC First Team selection Meghan Roehrich, who graduated last May. Roehrich leaves a big gap in scoring, but the team hopes it can make up for that with a balanced scoring attack.

Head coach Karla Nelson is looking to continue her streak of 15 consecutive winning seasons as leader of the Dragons.

With a win under the team’s belt, the players have high expectations for the season.

“I expect us to go far,” Brekke said. “I hope that we can make a lot of improvements and go far in the season.”

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