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DSU breezes past Bisons in season opener

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State sophomore TaRicka Linzy, left, looks to pass against University of Manitoba's Jenilyn Monton during a game on Saturday at Scott Gymnasium.

It was all for Janae Moore.

As the final seconds of the Dickinson State women's basketball game ran off the clock, senior guard Dawne Degel rushed the game ball over to Moore's -- a junior forward who tragically died in a car crash in August -- family sitting behind the team.

The Blue Hawks defeated the University of Manitoba 63-40 Tuesday night in the Scott Gymnasium in honor of their fallen teammate, surrounded by students and fans all wearing T-shirts in her honor.

"Every time you sink a shot it's all you can think about, that she was there," Degel said.

Senior guard Mariah Duran added: "This game was all for her and it will continue the whole season will be for her. It wasn't just tonight the whole season will be."

The Blue Hawks started slow in the first half of the game, only scoring eight points in the first 10 minutes. Manitoba challenged them in every aspect and stayed within single-digits at halftime. At the half, DSU held a 32-25 lead over the Bisons.

"We started off really slow ... I worry a little bit about our offense being slow at this time of year," head coach Marc Graupe said. "Usually the defense is ahead of the offense and so I said to them, 'let's just show the crowed that we hustle and can play some defense.' But didn't think our offense would play like this. But they finally came out of it."

In the second half, the team answered his call. DSU hustled and worked as a team. The Blue Hawks went after the ball, fought more when it was on the ground and defensively never let up on their pressure on the Bisons. The Blue Hawks finished shooting at 34.6 percent from the field and made 13 of 17 free throws. Duran led the team in points with 13 and made eight free throws and the only 3-pointer all night.

"I thought our defensive pressure was really good," Degel said. "After the first half, or half way, through it when we started getting up in them. We had so many tips and steals."

One of the players Graupe was most pleased with was transfer sophomore guard TaRicka Linzy. On Monday, junior guard Keana Magalei broke her leg and was ruled out until Jan. 1 at the earliest. As the sole point guard for the team, Graupe was forced to make some position changes and moved Linzy to point guard and was happy with her performance Tuesday night.

"I thought she did a really nice job running the point," Graupe said. "She hasn't been running that position.

"That's just what this year is going to be about, making strides with what we have we'll get girls back for this reason or that reason and we'll go from there."

Linzy finished the night with 12 points, while eight of those points came from the free-throw line.

The Blue Hawks take on Manitoba again at 2 p.m. today. With the initial butterflies out of the way, the team can focus on working some problem areas from the night before, like turnovers and play calling

"Obviously there were mistakes made we're in the middle of October, but the good thing is we can cure that in practice," Graupe said. "We don't have anything in offensively I think I got two play calls, two things we can call and that's it. So we don't have any out of bounds plays and I'm not going to panic and rush everything in, it's going to be a gradual process."

Duran added: "I think tomorrow is going to be a lot better start ... Go through the whole game and finish strong, not start like we did today."

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.