The MSUM Dragons women’s basketball team opened the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference/Sanford Health Tournament with a 70-53 win over Southwest Minnesota State at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.
It was a bounce-back win for MSUM, which had its school record tying 16-game win streak snapped with Saturday’s 59-47 loss to Minnesota-Duluth.
Freshman guard Kiley Borowicz, who had just three points on Saturday, came off the bench and led the Dragons with 21 points and six rebounds.
“I met with (Borowicz) on Monday after our loss and told her we needed her to be aggressive,” head coach Karla Nelson said. “I thought she was a huge lift. I thought she and Kourtney Selensky were a huge lift for us.”
Selensky finished with six points and Megan Hintz tallied 12 points and eight rebounds for the Dragons, while Drew Sannes added nine points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
The Dragons came out firing right away, holding a 24-8 lead after the first quarter.
Entering halftime, MSUM had a 41-21 advantage over the Mustangs behind Borowicz’ 10 points and Sannes’ nine points. The Dragons were having no trouble with SMSU’s pressure-defense.
“We did a great job against the press and we were hitting on all cylinders for a while,” Nelson said. “I thought the press actually set us up for some easy baskets.”
The Dragons went cold in the third quarter, as an 11-0 SMSU run cut the lead to nine with 1:58 left in the quarter.
As the momentum shifted, Nelson decided she needed to make a change, so she brought in a lineup featuring four guards (Borowicz, Selensky, Jacky Volkert, Cassidy Thorson). Two made free throws each by Volkert and Thorson, and a layup by Borowicz helped the Dragons gain some steam before Caleigh Rodning sank a deep three-pointer with one second left for SMSU, cutting the Dragons’ lead to 10 entering the fourth.
The Mustangs outscored the Dragons 20-10 as MSUM shot just 2-of-12 in the third. Seeing the Dragons perform better near the end of the quarter, Nelson stuck with her new personnel as MSUM regained its composure in the fourth quarter.
“I felt as the third quarter ended, that all-guard lineup was a better lineup to go with,” Nelson said. “Kourtney hit a big shot, Kiley got to the rim and it opened it up for Jacky to make some decisions with only one post in there.”
Volkert contributed in all facets for the Dragons, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“(Volkert) can control the whole game from just one position,” Nelson said. “She’s going to need to do that as we head on down to Sioux Falls. If she continues to play that way, we’re going to be in a lot of basketball games.”
Despite contributions across the board, it was Borowicz who stole the show.
High-stakes situations are not new for Borowicz. As a senior in high school, she led Roseau to a 32-0 record and Class 2A State Championship while averaging 25.9 points per game.
“I’m used to playing in big games or trying to make big plays in games, so I guess I tried to do that tonight,” Borowicz said. “And I’m hoping that will continue when we go to Sioux Falls next week.”
The Dragons (23-4, 19-3 NSIC) play the Sioux Falls Cougars in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Sunday at 8 p.m.