- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
Give 'Em the Boot
If Mara Brauns’ turn around, buzzer beating, game winning three against Lehigh was last season’s emotional high point, last season’s low point likely occurred four days later in Fargo with Braun on the bench, her foot in a boot, and her teammates playing like they were wearing UGGs. The final was North Dakota State 71, Minnesota 65.
The Gophers led 12-8 at the end of one; but the Bison took a 28-27 half time lead on a buzzer beating lay-up. Minnesota cut the lead to 61-62 with three minutes to play before NDSU pushed it out to the final margin. The most notable Gopher performers came off the bench. Maggie Czinano (13 points and 7 rebounds) paired with Amaya Battle (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 turnover) to keep Minnesota in the game. It wasn’t enough.
NDSU continued to an 18-12 record with a 2nd place 12-6 finish in the Summit league. Head coach Jory Collins, now in his fifth season with the Bison, earned a trip to the WNIT where NDSU lost at Oregon 57-96.
The good news for Minnesota is that last season’s two most bothersome Bison, Taylor Brown and Emily Behnke, have moved on. The duo combined for 30 points and 18 rebounds against the Gophers. However, NDSU returned its best two players: superb guards, Elle Evans and Heaven Hamling who will be trouble enough.
NDSU’s Season Thus Far
After being projected for a 2nd place finish in the Summit League behind SDSU and ahead South Dakota, NDSU opened with a loss to top 20 Creighton in Sioux Falls 52-75. The Bison, scoreless in the first six minutes, ended the first quarter trailing 4-16. It was 16-38 at the half. The Blue Jays eventually opened a 24-60 lead before backing off. It was a typical Creighton slicing and dicing at a level the Gophers have yet to obtain. NDSU followed that loss with a win over NAIA Jamestown before preparing for Minnesota.
This is our first good opportunity to learn something about where the Gophers are headed this season. It’s sort of a measuring stick game for both teams with the caveat that there’s a gap in the Summit League between 1st place SDSU and 2nd place NDSU. The Jackrabbits defeated the Bison twice last season: 63-94 and 54-82.
The most obvious and interesting test will be the guard match-up. Any talk about North Dakota State guards starts with sixth year senior Heaven Hamling. The 5’8” Grand Rapids native was named to the Summit League preseason First Team. Last season, Hamling was an All-Summit League First Teamer. In 2020-21, following her transfer from Stephen F Austin, she was Summit League Newcomer of the Year. Hamling can put up the stats. Last year Hamling averaged 16.5 ppg in 33 minutes per game. She was the team’s leading three-point threat hitting 35% (75-215). For good measure, she averaged two steals/game and connected on 83% of her foul shots.
Hamling’s running mate at guard is 6’3” sophomore Elle Evans. Evans was last season’s Summit League Freshman of the Year and was named to the All-Defensive Team. She averaged 13.4 points and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes per game. Evans will put up some threes (32.1 %) and she’s an accurate shooter from the floor (44 %). Oh yes, her defense: 42 blocks and 39 steals. Her length causes difficulties.
The third Bison starting guard is 5’10” Senior, Abby Schulte from Maple Grove. Schulte averaged 6.9 points and 3.4 assists in 30 minutes per game last year. She finished the season with 37 steals.
The NDSU front line is more of a mystery. Other than assuming they will play hard and smart, there is little to report this early in the season. Anyway, let’s start with 6’2” junior, Abbie Draper. This is her second year in Fargo after beginning her career at Bradley. She was one of several players on last season’s Bison that had played against Minnesota while representing other schools. Draper’s line against Creighton approximates her averages from last season: 4 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Finishing out the starters is 6’3” redshirt freshman Marwa Bedziri from Sweden. She scored 6 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 21 minutes versus Creighton.
One other forward of note is 6’2” freshman, Avery Koenen who pulled down 4 rebounds in 18 minutes in the opener.
I believe it’s safe to say neither players nor coach are looking past Wednesday’s rematch with North Dakota State. We don’t need early season low points.