70s in 2017: Dragon women look to continue hot streak

By John Miller

millerjoh@mnstate.edu

 The MSUM women’s basketball team lost their first game of the season to Harding University of Searcy, Arkansas, at a neutral court in Overland Park, Kansas, on Nov. 12, 2016.

 ince that game, the Dragons have not lost a game, currently holding a 15-game winning streak.

 unior forward Drew Sannes credits MSUM’s focus and defense for their winning streak.

 “Coming in every day and never losing focus has greatly helped,” Sannes said. “We like to focus on the defensive end of the court.”

 he Dragons’ opponents have averaged just 54.3 points per game against the Dragon defense, while MSUM’s offense averages 70.1 points per game.

 “We take pride in being a strong defensive team,” Sannes said. “We obviously want to outscore our opponents, but if we can hold them to a certain amount of points, we’ll be well off.”

 ead coach Karla Nelson explained several reasons why the Dragons have been able to maintain their winning streak. She credited her players for their defensive rebounding, team chemistry and high-percentage shot attempts on offense.

 “The defensive end has been a key for us,” Nelson said. “That’s going to have to be our calling card, and we are going to continue to make sure that is our focus until the season is over.”

 he Dragons are undefeated on the road this season, posting an 8-0 record away from their home court. Nelson said their preparation for entering the opposing gym does not stray from how they typically prepare.

 “We don’t do anything extravagant,” Nelson said. “Our prep is the same for everybody, which gives consistency. I think because we are consistent in how we prepare, that helps us for both home and road games.”

 annes added that during away games they ignore outside pressures when in a hostile environment.

 “It can be tough,” Sannes said. “We just have to focus on what we can control and not pay attention to what is going on around us, such as the fans and environment.”

 he Dragons may have entered the weekend with a strong winning streak, but Nelson and Sannes maintain there is always room for improvement.

 “We’re always trying to tweak things and improve in certain areas,” Nelson said. “We could score more points and have to become a better offensive rebounding team.”

 annes agreed with her coach that MSUM should continue to better their rebounding.

 “All around we aren’t playing our best ball,” Sannes said. “We need to take care of the ball more and continue to improve our rebounding.”

 ccording to Nelson, another key to success has been the improved play of Sannes. Last season, Sannes averaged 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. This season, Sannes averages 15.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game.

 annes attributes her improved play this season to her offseason focus, which revolved around conditioning.

 “I made sure to have good conditioning in place,” Sannes said. “I knew I had to step up since some of our big players from last season have moved on.”

 “Drew has been a huge key to our success,” Nelson said. “Fortunately for Drew, she plays with good players. They have good chemistry; they feed off each other and share the ball. It’s not a one player effort either, our bench also plays a big role.”

 he Dragons hosted a pair of conference home games over the weekend. Minnesota Duluth took on MSUM Friday night at Nemzek Fieldhouse, and St. Cloud State faced the Dragons Saturday afternoon at 4:15 p.m.

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