Dragons continue winning ways, closing in on program record
MOORHEAD—The game lasted 56 minutes and the teams combined for nearly 200 points and more than 170 shots from the field. The performance in some ways encapsulated the Minnesota State Moorhead women's basketball season to this point.
The Dragons found a way to win.
MSUM earned a 101-97 victory in four overtimes at Winona State last Friday, a victory that helped the Dragons keep their 13-game winning streak intact.
"I've seen people hit shots and go into overtime and double overtime, but nothing quite like that," Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. "I had to go back Sunday afternoon and watch it because I actually couldn't remember much of the game because I was so focused on each possession."
The Dragons haven't lost a game since Dec. 15, a 69-65 loss at Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rival Northern State. MSUM (19-3, 16-2 NSIC) has a one-game lead over Northern State in the North Division heading into the weekend. The Dragons play at Bemidji State on Friday, Feb. 9, and at Minnesota-Crookston on Saturday, Feb. 10.
"We just need to keep getting a little better," Nelson said. "You can't get complacent. You can't be complacent at this time of year."
The Dragons current winning streak looked in jeopardy at Winona State last weekend, but MSUM got clutch 3-pointers from Kourtney Selensky, Cassidy Thorson and Jacky Volkert in the overtimes. The team also got strong bench play led by Madi Green, who had 18 points and eight rebounds, including a key putback with 26 seconds to play in the fourth overtime. That was the longest game in program and NSIC history.
"I have not been in a game like that ever before," Green said. "It was very intense and nerve-wracking."
The Dragons also got quality post play from starters Drew Sannes and Megan Hintz, as they combined for 41 points and 16 rebounds. Nelson said that game also showed an ingredient the team has played with for most of the season that doesn't show up on the stat sheet.
"I think it's their will," Nelson said. "For the most part, it has nothing to do with coaching, it has to do with their mentality as a group. Their grit and that perseverance."
For Nelson, last Saturday's 64-35 victory at Upper Iowa was just as impressive as the marathon victory the night before.
"I think that what impressed me the most is how we played the next night at Upper Iowa," Nelson said. "I respected how we came out and played."
During the 13-game winning streak, the Dragons are averaging 74.6 points per game, while limiting opponents to 61.4 points per contest. Volkert (15.2 points), Sannes (14.2), Hintz (13.2) and Thorson (10.4) are all averaging in double digits during that stretch.
MSUM has four games remaining in the regular season and are close to the program's longest winning streak. The Dragons won 16 games in a row during the 1991-92 season. This year's team would better that mark if it ran the table to end the regular season. However, Nelson said the team isn't focused on the winning streak.
The Dragons also had a strong regular season last year, but were upset in the second round of the NSIC tournament and lost in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament. A 24-5 season ended with two consecutive losses.
"The way we ended last year is a big motivating force," Nelson said.
A 6-foot-2 sophomore, Green had back-to-back strong performances last weekend, combining for 27 points and 15 rebounds off the bench the wins against Winona State and Upper Iowa. She's averaging 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game this season.
"For me, I went out there and focused on playing good defense and rebounding. That led to good offensive play as well," Green said. "Defense and rebounding is what coach always preaches. If we do those two things our offense comes together after that."