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Blue Hawks on a roll: Dickinson State tops Rocky Mountain to claim first conference win

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State senior guard Dawne Degel, right, goes up for a shot against Rocky Mountain guard Jayde Lefevre during a Frontier Conference game on Monday at Scott Gymnasium. The Blue Hawks beat the Bears 88-69.

The Dickinson State women’s basketball team was all smiles Monday on and off the court.

The Blue Hawks played a nearly flawless game and beat Rocky Mountain College 88-69 in their first Frontier Conference game of the season. The team only had Sunday to prepare for the Bears after the two-day Sam Milanovich Tournament at Scott Gymnasium. Despite the quick turnaround, DSU looked fresh, energetic and well rested.

“We buy into what the coach says because every time we listen to him we always come out with a win,” sophomore guard TaRicka Linzy said. “Everybody just bought in today and we knew the game plan and we were ready for today.

It was the first conference game for both DSU and Rocky. And it was all Blue Hawks from start to finish.

In the first half, DSU was a little slow at first, missing a majority of their shots until senior forward Jess Bygate hit the team’s first basket three minutes in to make it 5-2. Rocky was ravenous for the ball, rebounding most shots and had a six-point lead over the Blue Hawks with 16 minutes left.

“I think Rocky is a good team, when I watched them this weekend,” DSU head coach Mark Graupe said. “They were up double digits on Jamestown early, they jumped on Mayville early, 9-0 before you could blink. I had a lot of respect for them.”

But after the media timeout — with Rocky up 20-18 — momentum swung in favor of DSU who went on a scoring spree and was up by 16, 37-21, with 3:41 left to go and led 40-29 at the end of the half. Bygate and Linzy were both in double-digit points with 12 and 10 respectively and finished with 18 and 22. The Blue Hawk’s defense was able to hold Rocky’s offense to just 36 percent shooting and 10 for 37 outside the arc.

The game plan coming in for the Blue Hawks was to shut down Jayde Lefevere and Brittany Kumm and employed a special triangle and two defense and had two players guarding them at all times. Lefevre was one of three players with 10 points on the night and also had five rebounds while Kumm wasn’t able to do much and finished with just five points and four turnovers.

“They had 44 of their 77 points the other day, they’re that good,” Graupe said. “So I said if they’re going to try and beat us, let the others beat us.”

The Blue Hawks lost none of their energy after halftime, starting off with a pair of 3-pointers by senior guards Mariah Duran and Dawne Degel and outscored the Bears 10-4 two and a half minutes in. DSU held their double-digit lead over the Bears the rest of the game and was up as much as 20 after another Duran 3-pointer with three and a half left to go.

The Blue Hawks are 7-3 on the season, but have a total of eight wins with an exhibition victory over South Dakota School of Mines. The team has tied its win total from last season and although they realize there are still some fundamentals to improve on, there is no doubt the Blue Hawks are more confident and believe in their ability to play the game.

“We’re focusing on what we can do,” Bygate said. “We know we’re solid on defense, if we do what coach is asking of us, do everything we’re meant to be doing it’ll take care of itself and we don’t have to worry so so much of what they’re doing or who they are.”

Linzy added: “We’re just a talented team so we don’t really worry about (our offense), it’s just going to come into play. Majority on the defense just help side, switching and talking are the things basically our main goals because if we stop them on defense we got them on offense basically. And defense wins championships.”

Before the Christmas break, DSU has three more games to play starting with Valley City at home Dec. 11, followed by two away games at Presentation College Dec. 14 and University of Winnipeg Dec. 15. With his team in high spirits and guaranteed to be No. 1 in the Frontier Conference for a month, Graupe’s goal until the break is to get double-digit wins and end on a high note. He said it’s been a tough road for his team so far but couldn’t be more pleased with their attitudes and work ethic.

“I give all the credit to the ladies for just persevering through any tough time and there’s been many,” he said. “They just keep moving on to the next play, they keep their chins up and that’s why I’m a pretty proud coach right now.”

ROCKY MOUNTAIN (RECORD): Taylor ufeld 3-8 0-0 7, Mya Perrow-Donovan 3-4 2-2 8, Jayde Lefevre 4-9 0-0 10, Kelsey George 3-11 1-1 8, Brittany Kumm 1-8 2-2 5, McKenzie Webinger 0-2 0-0 0, Kayla Lucas 4-10 0-0 10, Peyton Spencer 2-3 0-0 5, Allie Seauvageau 1-2 0-0 3, Katie Fitzpatrick 1-8 0-0 3, Megan Halstead 3-4 4-5 10. Totals: 25-69 9-10 69.

DICKINSON STATE (7-3): Jess Bygate 8-15 2-2 18, Porsha Wadsworth 1-3 0-0 2, Dawne Degel 2-5 0-0 2, Mariah Duran 6-10 1-2 17m TaRicka Linzy 6-16 4-4 22, Ja’Lisa Gatlin 4-12 0-0 8, Rachael McDonough 1-3 0-0 2, Ashley Kennedy 4-5 1-4 9, Hannah Beede 2-2 0-0 4, Jalyn Klauzer 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 34-71 9-14 88.

Halftime: 40-29. Total fouls: RMC 17, DSU 17. 3-point goals: RMC 10-37 (Kyfeld 1-4, Lefevre 2-5, George 1-7, Kumm 1-6, Webinger 0-1, Lucas 2-7, Spencer 1-1, Seauvageu 1-1, Fitzpatrick 1-5), DSU 11-24 (Degel 1-3 Duran 4-7, Linzy 6-11, Gatlin 0-1, McDonough 0-2). Rebounds: RMC 44 (Perrow-Donovan 12), DSU 39 (Gatlin 12). Assists: RMC 19 (George 6), DSU 23 (Linzy 8). Steals: RMC 5 (Kumm, Spencer, Halstead 1), DSU 13 (Linzy 4). Blocks: RMC 1 (Halstead 1), DSU 2 (Linzy 2). Turnovers: RMC 19 (Perrow-Donovan 5), DSU 8 (Linzy 2).

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.