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Griffins jump out early, roll Dickinson State

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State junior forward Keshawnee Alley, right, goes up for a layup against Westminster College (Utah) during a Frontier Conference game on Thursday at Scott Gymnasium.

After an embarrassing loss to Montana Tech, the Dickinson State women’s basketball team showed a little more hustle against a higher-ranked team.

DSU hosted No. 3-ranked Westminster College (Utah), who is unbeaten in the Frontier Conference, and kept within a single-digit deficit for the end of the first half and most of the second.

Despite the Griffins’ 70-45 win against the Blue Hawks on Thursday, DSU head coach Mark Graupe was thrilled with his team’s defensive performance. The Blue Hawks grabbed 29 total rebounds.

“I told them after the game ‘do you see why I’ve been preaching defense all year long,’” Graupe said. “No matter what happens on offense, we were terrible, 27 turnovers. They’re a great defensive team but we can hang in there if we play defense and we showed that.”

Thursday’s game was also Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and sneakers night, where DSU teamed up with the American Cancer Society for cancer awareness.

In the first half, DSU (13-10, 3-5 Frontier) was off to another slow start and the Griffins (14-2, 8-0 Frontier) pounced on the opportunity.

DSU seniors Mariah Duran and Jess Bygate missed the team’s first two shots and didn’t get on the board until Bygate hit her jump shot 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the half. Down 22-14 at the 10-minute mark, the Blue Hawks picked up its intensity on defense and gave Westminster some competition. 

With 2:37 left, DSU went on an 8-0 run starting with sophomore guard TaRicka Linzy driving into the paint and finishing, while senior forward Dawne Degel supplied a put back layup with 46 seconds left.

“We really just played defense, that’s basically the bottom line,” freshman guard Rachel McDonough said, who started her first game of the season. “We didn’t have a very good offensive game still, but it didn’t really matter in the first half because we were playing such good defense we kept them under 35 points for a team that’s ranked third in the nation.”

To start the second half, the Griffins hit three-straight shots by three separate players — Kelsi Wells, Tia Pappas and Shelby Ellsworth — but DSU went on a run of its own. Junior forward Keshawnee Alley scored all four points for DSU in the first four minutes. Alley finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

With 10 minutes left, Bygate shortened Westminster’s lead to seven, 35-48, with a layup, but the Griffins scored 25 points in the final nine minutes.

DSU finished 19 of 42 from the field (45 percent) and made 5 of 6 free throws.

“Definitely a step in the right direction from the couple of games we’ve had in the past, especially last weekend. We did a lot better as a team,” said Degel, who finished with five points, five rebounds and three steals.

The Blue Hawks return to Scott Gymnasium to host Frontier Conference opponent Montana Western at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“We have to go in thinking they’re better than us, not that they’re worse than us, not that they’re even par because you have to respect your opponent and at no point can you say ‘oh well we’re better than them we don’t need to worry about them,’” McDonough said. “We just need to play like we did today, there’s no telling how much we can win by or how close it can be.”

WESTMINSTER (14-2, 8-0 Conference): Shelby Ellsworth 3-7 0-2 6, Kelsi Wells 7-12 2-2 19, Ali Blake 1-5 5-6 7, Tia Pappas 2-6 7-8 12, Alli Winters 5-9 0-0 15, Amy Krommenhoeck 3-7 0-0 9, Katie Richens 1-2 0-0 2, Amanda Hacking 0-2 0-2 0. Totals: 22-50 14-20 70.

DICKINSON STATE (13-10, 3-5 Conference): Jess Bygate 4-8 2-2 10, Dawne Degel 2-5 0-0 5, Mariah Duran 0-3 0-0 0, Keshawnee Alley 7-11 2-2 16, Rachel McDonough 0-1 0-0 0, Ja’Lisa Gatlin 1-2 1-2 3, JaiDah Richardson 0-1 0-0 0, TaRicka Linzy 3-8 0-0 6, Hannah Beede 1-1 0-0 3, Jalyn Klauzer 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 19-42 5-6 45.

Halftime: 31-24. Total fouls: WC 11, DSU 20. Fouled out: DSU, Alley. 3-point goals: WC 12-22 (Ellsworth 0-1, Wells 3-5, Pappas 1-2, Winters 5-8, Krommenhoeck 3-6), DSU 2-9 (Degel 1-2, Duran 0-1, Mcdonough 0-1, Richardon 0-1, Linzy 0-3, Beede 1-1). Rebounds: WC 26 (Wells 7), DSU 29 (Alley 7). Assists: WC 16 (Blake 6), DSU 7 (Gatlin 3). Steals: WC 23 (Pappas 6), DSU 14 (Degel 3). Blocks: WC 1 (Pappas), DSU 4 (Alley 3). Turnovers: WC 16 (Pappas 4), DSU 27 (Linzy 6).

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.