Hunter's 17 gets VCSU past Dickinson
When Valley City State University women's basketball coach Jill DeVries looked at the matchup between her team and Dickinson State University Saturday and thought her team could have some fun in the paint.
"We thought we could do some things with our post players because we're probably a litle quicker," DeVries said.
So as the Blue Hawks trapped Valley City's guards, leaving post players open, the Vikings capitalized, getting 29 combined points from Brittany Lehner and Kelsey Hunter in an 81-59 win at W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse in the teams' first encounter this season.
The scoring total was only three points from being a top-three scoring total in team history. The highest scoring game in VCSU history was against South Dakota Tech. in 2002, when the Vikings scored 93 points. Later that year they scored 84 at S.D. Tech, the third highest total, and the Vikings scored 85 in 2003 against Trinity Bible, the second-highest total.
It was a lead that came early, behind points from Hunter and Lehner in a seven-point run to go up 10-4 with 15:25 in the first half, and lasted long into the second half.
The Vikings eventually led 38-26 and halftime and, despite a strong start early in the second half by Dickinson, had little trouble closing it out.
Much of it was the team utilizing lessons from their Wednesday exhibition loss to St. Cloud State.
In that loss the Vikings were consistently double teamed, but struggled by allowing turnovers amidst forced passes. Saturday, it was a different story.
When the Vikings were pressed with the double teams, the ball guards were patient and found as pass, usually to a post player to finish off the play.
"We used our game Wednesday as a learning experience and I thought the girls really responded today a bit better," DeVries said. "You have good nights, you have bad nights and you can't let them carry from one night to the other because every game's different."
They also played aggressive on the defensive end, forcing 28 turnovers and numerous jump balls.
The Vikings finished with only 17 turnovers, forcing 28.
Offensively, the Vikings played relatively balanced. 10 players scored and nine of them had at least six points.
Hunter was the breakout scorer, putting up a career-high 17 points, fed largely from Sierra Even, who had six assists. DeVries credited both of them with making plays at key points in the game.
"Sierra's a little bigger guard and when she got matched up, she did a great job finding kelsey. Kelsey did a a great job moving without the basketball," DeVries said. "When you do those two things, good things happen."
Hunter and Lehner helped get the early lead. Ashli Lee then got a 3-pointer before guards Katie Ralston, Sadiqah Jihad and Courtney Titus to to up 21-11.
The scoring varied the rest of the way as players such as Alyssa Hummel and Courtney Dixon found their spots, along with the rest of the guards.
The play improved as the game continued, with VCSU shooting .619 from the field in the second half, .537 in the game.
In addition to Hunter's 17, Lehner and Ralston had 12 points each.
Dickinson relied largely on forward Jess Bygate, who had 10 of the Blue Hawks' 49 field goal attempts, connecting on seven of them and grabbing five rebounds.
Otherwise, Dickinson Relied on guard Yianna Nadeau, who went 3-5 from the 3-point line and had 13 points. Dawne Degel had nine.
The former Dakota Athletic Conference foes won't wait long to play again. VCSU's women travel to Dickinson this weekend for games against the Blue Hawks and Rocky Mountain College.