MOORHEAD — The Minnesota State Moorhead women's basketball team is set to sit out another Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference weekend due to COVID-19.
The Dragons had their two-game road series against St. Cloud State, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Jan. 30, canceled due to COVID-19 test protocols. Officials from both schools made the announcement Monday, Jan. 25.
The Dragons women's team has now had four games canceled this season, including two home games scheduled for last weekend against Minnesota-Duluth. MSUM had multiple positive tests for COVID-19 late last week, forcing the team to quarantine.
“It’s painful because we want to compete and I know our players want to play and our coaches want to coach," MSUM athletic director Doug Peters said. "As much as we understand why, it's still a tough one to swallow.”
The games against St. Cloud State won't be rescheduled due to NSIC scheduling guidelines for this season.
“I think my biggest concern is how we come back and what does that look like?" Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said. "You are worried about conditioning and all that stuff.”
The Dragons (3-3, 2-2 North) haven't played a game since Jan. 16 at Bemidji State. MSUM's next scheduled game is Feb. 5 at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse against Minot State.
“My hope is we will be back on the court for our first game in February," Peters said.
Nelson said the Dragons aren't scheduled to return to practice until at least next Monday. Pending that return date, the team would have practiced only two times in two weeks.
“You can’t get too high or too low about this or mad or upset because it’s out of your control. It’s another part of the COVID story," Nelson said. “We're doing the best that we can and I think we're doing everything we can as a program and an institution.”
The NSIC is scheduled to play a 16-game schedule this season against conference-only opponents over eight weekends due to the pandemic. The first two games in that shortened schedule weren't counted as conference games. The Dragons have already had 25% of their regular-season games canceled.
MSUM has six games remaining on its regular-season schedule. The Dragons need to play at least 11 games to be eligible for the NCAA postseason and would need to play at least half the league games to be eligible for the NSIC tournament. That means MSUM would have to play seven of the 14 scheduled conference games.
"It’s something we are tracking," Peters said of the game count. "We are hopeful we get to play the last six games of the conference season so we don’t have to worry about the thresholds.”
The Dragons have not allowed fans to their home sporting events throughout January. Peters said no decision has been made on if fans will be allowed for home events in February.
“We’re still working on that," Peters said.