It goes without saying that not every shot taken in a basketball game falls in, which is why many coaches focus on play after the shot. The difference between a team getting the ball back or giving it up falls in the hands of those underneath the basket grabbing rebounds.
In that regard, Valley City State University womens basketball coach Jill DeVries left pleased after the Vikings' 68-60 win over University of Minnesota — Crookston Monday at W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse.
The Vikings came down with seemingly every miss the Golden Eagles had, racking up 40 rebounds in the game, nearly double what they allowed.
"The 50-50 balls, I thought our kids did a good job of out-hustling them on the long rebounds and loose balls," DeVries said.
It make up for early turnovers that hurt the Vikings, and played the crucial difference in a late run that separated the teams, which played close the entire game.
With just over nine minutes left, Valley City scored on a layup to narrow Crookston's lead to 52-48. Not long after, the Vikings wrangled a rebound, then had a low-post pass from Stephanie Pederson to Alyssa Hummel that make it 52-50.
The Vikings then had points from Sierra Even, Tracie Boehmlehner to go up 54-52. Free throws by Hummel and Katie Ralston ended the run up 58-52 with under six minutes left.
It was a lead that was never relinquished, but brought on and upheld because of a rebound, followed by a pass up the court and a move up the middle.
Hummel said it was simply a matter of playing calm and confidently.
"Playing to win, and not playing down to our opponents," she said.
The rebounding effort was led by Brittany Lehner, whose efforts helped keep the Vikings in the game early.
VCSU went up 3-0 in the first two minutes, but struggled trying to force passes into the post and fell behind 9-5.
Both teams played aggressive defensively, leaving few shots uncontested. Even though Valley City had a few more turnovers than DeVries wanted, the rebounding kept it even.
Lehner finished with seven rebounds in the first half and her five offensive boards were as many as Crookston's entire team. She finished the game with nine rebounds, one short of what would have been a double-double with her 14 points.
As the teams traded leads in the first half, the Golden Eagles went on a 7-point run in two minutes that gave them a 27-22 lead. They increased it to 28-23 on a free throw, but Valley City had layups from Lehner and Courtney Titus to narrow the lead to 28-27 at halftime.
Hummel, Ralston and Titus all gave the Vikings a quick burst in the second half to go up 34-31 but the game remained close with Crookston matching any VCSU run until the Vikings made their break.
Brittani Weise led Crookston with 15 points and Ashley Martell provided 14.
VCSU was led by Titus, with 18, followed by Lehner, 14, and Hummel, who had 11.
VCSU finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor, including 15-26 in the second half. The Vikings also finished the game 20-29 in free throws.
The Vikings host Wednesday in an exhibition game at 7 p.m.