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DSU drops VCSU: Blue Hawks post 16-point run en route to nonconference win over Vikings

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State senior forward Jess Bygate, right, goes up for a jump shot against Valley City State’s Kesley Hunter during a nonconference game on Wednesday at Scott Gymnasium. Bygate finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Dickinson State women’s head basketball coach Mark Graupe didn’t like what he was seeing with 7½ minutes left in the first half, so he called a timeout.

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At the time, Valley City State held a 23-15 lead. However, the tide of momentum was about to quickly turn.

“We were struggling offensively and we just weren’t crisp,” Graupe said. “What we talked about in the huddle was getting a couple bunnies. That would get us rolling and, sure enough, it did.”

The Blue Hawks went on a 16-0 run during a five-minute stretch late in the first half and rode the nine-point halftime lead to a 70-57 nonconference win over Valley City State on Wednesday at Scott Gymnasium.

“Overall, it was kind of an ugly win, because it wasn’t our best basketball,” Graupe said. “We’ve been playing better, but the good news is that we won. It’s nice to win by 13, even when you don’t think you played very well. That’s a good sign for this team.”

Dawne Degel’s breakaway layup opened the run and the Blue Hawks were off to the races.

The Blue Hawks (8-3) didn’t waste any time extending its lead in the second half, increasing it to as much as 17 points after TaRicka Linzy knocked down a 3-pointer. The sophomore guard was limited to two points in the first half, but exploded for 17 in the second.

“In the second (half), we are always thinking it is a 0-0,” said Linzy, whose 19 points were a game high. “We didn’t want to let down and we wanted to keep up the pressure.”

Though the Blue Hawks only had two players in double figures — Linzy with 19 and Jess Bygate with 16 points and nine rebounds — the team had nine players score at least two or more points.

Bygate said it’s great to know everyone on the court can put the ball in the basket.

“We have good guards and if that’s not working, we have good posts and we can keep teams guessing,” she said. “If someone is having a bad shooting night, we can adjust and we’ll be successful.”

DSU’s double-digit lead never wavered. The closest the Vikings came was when they trimmed the Blue Hawks’ lead to 62-51 after Megan Trautman knocked down a 3-pointer.

The Blue Hawks’ goal in every game is to win the final 20 minutes of play. They outscored the Vikings by four in the second half — mission accomplished.

“It’s really exciting, because we haven’t reached our peak yet,” Linzy said. “We are still progressing and learning from each other.”

In the opening 12 minutes, the Vikings (3-5) built a 14-9 after a Courtney Dixon layup. Bygate and Ja’Lisa Gatlin proceeded to drain back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Blue Hawks a 15-14 lead.

After the two DSU 3-pointers, the turnover bug reared its ugly head. In the same span, the Vikings took full advantage of turnovers building up an eight-point lead, 23-15. The brief seven-point run was capped on a Sierra Even jump shot.

“We shot pretty well to start the game and we got some easy basketball, which helped us transition back to defense pretty well,” VCSU head coach Cathy Hanek said. “Then we had a little bit of a spurt there where we weren’t scoring and that kind of hurt us.”

The Blue Hawks shot 25 of 52 (46 percent) from the field and 12 of 13 from the free-throw line. The Vikings were 20 of 59 (34 percent) from the field and 13 of 16 from the line.

DSU received contributions from Degel, who had nine points and seven rebounds, and Ashley Kennedy with seven points. Mariah Duran, who posted 28 points against Mayville State during the Sam Milanovich Classic on Nov. 30, was limited to just six points.

Graupe said there’s only one statistic the team cares about and it isn’t who is leading the team in points. It’s winning.

“Until tonight, I didn’t know who our leading scorer was because we don’t care about that stuff,” he said. “We don’t pay attention to stats, but we do care about the record.”

VCSU had three players in double figures. Brittany Lehner scored a team-high 13 points and nine rebounds, while Kelsey Hunter added 12 points and Stephanie Pederson posted 10.

The Blue Hawks have two games before the holiday break and their goal is to collect 10 wins by then. DSU travels to Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., at 1 p.m. Saturday and then host the University of Winnipeg (Manitoba) at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“We want to go into Christmas on a high note and we want to win the next two games for 10 wins,” Graupe said. “We are one-third of the way, but we have to stay focused on the next two.”

VALLEY CITY STATE (3-5): Britttany Lehner 6-12 1-1 13, Sierra Even 1-9 2-4 4, Sadiqah Jihad 0-9 2-2 2, Stephanie Pedersen 3-10 2-3 10, Kelsey Hunter 5-6 2-2 12, Tarah Cleveland 0-1 0-0 0, Ashli Lee 0-3 2-2 2, Courtney Greiner 2-2 0-0 4, Megan Trautman 2-4 2-2 8, Courtney Dixon 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 20-59 13-16 57.

DICKINSON STATE (8-3): Ashley Kennedy 3-6 1-1 7, Porsha Wadsworth 2-2 0-0 4, Dawne Degel 3-6 2-2 9, Mariah Duran 2-10 0-0 6, TaRicka Linzy 6-10 4-4 19, Alyssa Hildebrand 0-0 0-0 0, Ja’Lisa Gatlin 1-4 0-0 3, JaiDah Richardson 0-0 0-0 0, Rachael McDonough 0-0 4-4 4, Hannah Beede 0-1 0-0 0, Jess Bygate 7-14 1-2 16, Jalyn Klauzer 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 25-54 12-13 70.

Halftime: DSU 36-27. Total fouls: VCSU 15, DSU 16. 3-point goals: VCSU 4-24 (Trautman 2-4, Pedersen 2-6, Cleveland 0-1, Lee 0-1, Jihad 0-4, Even 0-8), DSU 8-22 (Linzy 3-6, Duran 2-8, Bygate 1-1, Gatlin 1-2, Degel 1-4, Beede 0-1). Rebounds: VCSU 31 (Lehner 9), DSU 36 (Bygate 9). Assists: VCSU 16 (four tied with three), DSU 17 (Duran 5). Steals: VCSU 19 (Even 5), DSU 15 (Bygate 3). Blocks: VCSU 2 (Even 1, Trautman 1), DSU 1 (Degel 1). Turnovers: VCSU 18 (Even 4, Jihad 4), DSU 19 (Linzy 5).