No. 14 DSU looks to get past VCSUA showdown against fifth-ranked Jamestown College is looming on Sunday. But first, the 14th-ranked Dickinson State women’s basketball team is more concerned with getting past one of the hottest teams in the Dakota Athletic Conference.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
A showdown against fifth-ranked Jamestown College is looming on Sunday. But first, the 14th-ranked Dickinson State women’s basketball team is more concerned with getting past one of the hottest teams in the Dakota Athletic Conference.
The Blue Hawks (12-4 overall, 3-0 DAC) look to maintain their spot at the top of the conference when they visit Valley City State at 4:30 p.m. MST today.
The Vikings enter the game having won four straight, including back-to-back blowouts on the road last weekend against Dakota State and Mayville State.
“You don’t see that very often, even if it’s (against) teams at the bottom of the pack,” DSU coach Guy Fridley said.
It has been a season of turnaround for both teams.
Last season, VCSU finished 5-23 overall, which included an 0-14 record against DAC opponents. DSU was second-to-last in the DAC with an 8-21 overall record and a 4-10 mark in the conference.
The Vikings (2-1 DAC, 10-7 overall) lost five of their first seven games before turning things around. Since the end of November, they are 8-2 with their only losses coming against Jamestown and the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.).
“The kids feel really good about it,” VCSU head coach Jill Devries said. “… Any time you can win ball games, you feel good. Any win’s a good win.”
The similarities don’t end there, however. Much like the Blue Hawks, VCSU relies on a one-two punch that works from the inside out.
Sophomore center Abby Rittenhouse, a 6-foot-1 transfer from St. Cloud State, averages 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds a game while sophomore guard Caitlyn Wojahn averages team-highs of 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals while chipping in 9.3 points per game.
“In women’s basketball, if you have a good point guard and a good big kid, you’re going to have some success,” Fridley said. “They have that and they’ve got some pieces around them on the perimeter that certainly can help them out.”
Likewise, the Blue Hawks owe thanks for their strong start to the inside-out combination of junior center Kia Herbel and senior guard Ashley Emmons.
Herbel, a 6-foot-2 transfer from Williston State College, is averaging team highs of 15.3 points and 8.4 rebounds a game.
Emmons, meanwhile, is coming off a shaky weekend that had a great end. While she scored just five points in two games — she was held scoreless in Friday’s win over Black Hills State — Emmons hit the game-winning layup that helped beat South Dakota Mines on Saturday night. She’s averaging 10.9 points, 4.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals a game.
Fridley said getting into an offensive flow against the Vikings is crucial to the Blue Hawks’ success.
“I think we just need to stay consistent offensively,” Fridley said. “That’s the biggest thing. We were consistent one night and inconsistent the second night. If we get the ball inside to Kia and get some touches there and get some easy baskets for her, that’s just going to open our players up on the perimeter.”