By: Griffin Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org
MSUM women’s basketball fought off a shaky opening quarter and exploded to a 95-44 victory over the Minnesota Morris Cougars Friday, Nov. 2 in an exhibition game at Nemzek Fieldhouse.
MSUM started the first quarter uneven, as the teams exchanged turnovers to open the game. The Dragons took the lead 18-16 at the buzzer on Megan Hintz’s put back off of an offensive rebound.
They were able to break the game open from there with a 21-3 run to open the second quarter. Jacky Volkert’s aggressive defense triggered this, also causing multiple turnovers resulting in quick buckets for the Dragons.
“That’s what you expect from your seniors,” Head Coach Karla Nelson said. “She took over the leadership role and got us going.”
The Dragons closed out the half leading 45-26. They came out of the locker room and continued to pressure the ball, extending their lead to 30 points. With 4:35 left in the third quarter, Peyton Boom stole the inbound pass and scored, following a three-point shot by Nicole Herbranson.
The Dragons refused to let up all, as they held Minnesota Morris’ offense to just 18 points in the second half, while offensively shooting 62.5 percent from the floor in the last two quarters.
The Dragons utilized their team’s height and length and finished with 40 rebounds, including 17 offensive boards. They also tallied 13 steals and caused 27 turnovers on the night. Steichen and Hintz led the team with three steals apiece.
Peyton Boom supplied offense off the bench for the Dragons, finishing with a game-high 16 points, including a pair of threes and seven rebounds. Fresh off her redshirt season, Boom was happy to be back on the court.
“It felt amazing to finally contribute,” Boom said of her stellar debut. “[After] sitting on the bench all last year, it felt great to do more than just cheer on my team.”
Coach Nelson mentioned that there were times last year she thought the team could use Boom’s presence, but she chose to save the year of eligibility and give her time to develop her game.
“I guess her name really says it all,” Coach Nelson said. “Boom!”
Collectively, the Dragons saw five players finish with double-digit point totals. Megan Hintz and Kiley Borowicz finished with 14 points, while Natalie Steichen and Nicole Brown each added 11 points.
Steichen and Brown, both true freshmen, got the chance to show their ability to contribute this season, and didn’t disappoint.
“There were a lot of nerves,” Coach Nelson said of her freshman class. “People came to watch these girls, and I was worried about how they would react, but I thought they handled it well. This class has a very high ceiling.”
Next up MSUM travels to Kansas City, Missouri, Nov. 9 and 10 to compete in the Central Region Challenge against Arkansas Tech and Pittsburgh State.
“These are huge games in terms of regional rankings and national rankings,” Coach Nelson said. “We’re going to have to improve this week in practice because [Arkansas Tech and Pittsburgh State] are athletic, aggressive and can cause a lot of problems for us.”
MSUM is projected to finish second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference according to the NSIC Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, behind only the Sioux Falls Cougars. Sioux Falls knocked MSUM out of the NSIC conference tournament last year in dramatic fashion, the Cougars stealing the game in the final seconds.
The Dragons won’t return to Nemzek Fieldhouse until an NSIC matchup against the University of Mary Friday, Dec. 14.