BY: John Miller
Amidst a hot streak, the MSUM women’s basketball team has hit its stride.
On Dec. 8, the Dragons were defeated at home by the University of Minnesota Crookston. It was an uncharacteristic loss for MSUM, as the Golden Eagles dwell near the bottom of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 5-13 overall record, 5-9 in conference play.
Following the loss, the Dragons bounced back the next day by beating Bemidji State 70-47. Then, MSUM split close games with Northern State, losing 69-65 on Dec. 15 and winning 64-61 on Dec. 19.
The Dragons have not lost since that Dec. 15 setback. On its nine-game win streak, MSUM has taken the top spot in the NSIC North division with a 15-3 overall record, 12-2 in the NSIC.
“I feel like we started to play a little better when we went to Northern,” Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. “I feel like we got our energy back and have better chemistry, you can see the flow a little better, especially in the last couple weeks.”
Nelson talked about her team still looking sluggish during the first string of wins, but after the Jan. 5 win over Minot State, the Dragons have defeated its opponents by an average of 16.8 points per game.
Defense and rebounding are often stressed by Nelson as major keys to winning. The Dragons are holding opponents to a 36.4 field goal percentage during the win streak, while grabbing about nine more rebounds per game than the other team.
“I think we’re buying in more to the defensive end,” Nelson said. “The better defensively we are, the better we rebound, the easier the offense will come because you can’t always rely on offense.”
On offense, the Dragons have had an even attack, with four starters (Jacky Volkert, Drew Sannes, Cassidy Thorson, Megan Hintz) averaging over 11 points, led by junior guard Volkert’s 14.1.
“Certainly every team wants to have balance; you’re tougher to guard,” Nelson said. “The other thing is I feel like not only do we have balance on our starting lineup, but our bench has been productive so we need to make sure that continues.”
Freshman guard Kiley Borowicz leads the Dragons’ reserves, averaging 8.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Along with a steady offense, Nelson wants the Dragons to tweak smaller aspects of the game such as free throw shooting and footwork to sustain the recent success.
“We’re still a relatively young basketball team so we need to still improve, but I don’t think you want to make things too complicated,” Nelson said. “You just want to do some simple things that make us a better basketball team.”
Thorson Sets Threes Record
Earning the Dragons’ seventh consecutive win on its current streak, MSUM topped Wayne State 86-84 in overtime on Jan. 13. Senior guard Cassidy Thorson made seven three-point shots in the game, which put her at 198 career three-pointers made, a new program record. She surpassed previous record holder Marisa Yernatich’s mark of 197.
Although there was an announcement during a stoppage in play, Thorson did not realize she etched her name in the Dragons’ record books until after the game.
“I guess they announced it during overtime while they were reviewing a call or something while we were in the huddle,” Thorson said. “I didn’t know until after the game when everyone was saying ‘Congratulations.’ It was a good feeling.”
Thorson, a senior from West Fargo, leads the team in three-pointers made with 53. She is also second on the team in three-point percentage (.371) and second in free throw percentage (.875) and third in scoring with 11.7 points per game.