Too close for comfort
Ashley Emmons knew she had to try recreating her game-winning shot she made against Valley City State.
But, the Dickinson State senior's attempts to redo the heaving, off-balance 3-pointer from the right side of the court were futile and laughable.
In Wednesday's night's game, Emmons banked the odd-looking shot off the backboard and in to give the Blue Hawks a 61-60 victory.
"We messed around in practice and tried to redo it," Emmons said. "It was funny."
Even though Emmons couldn't connect on the practice shots, she has been nothing short of clutch in games. She's made two game-winners this season and has made countless big shots throughout her career.
Nonetheless, Emmons is about fed up with being forced into making game-winning shots.
"A lot of the ones that were close like that shouldn't have been -- take for example this last game," Emmons said.
While DSU coach Guy Fridley hopes his team doesn't have to take anymore shots in the final seconds to win games, he knows it's done nothing but help the Blue Hawks.
"When you come out on top, you're never sick of them," Fridley said. "But, in a nutshell, it's made us better."
Emmons beat both South Dakota Mines and VCSU with last-second shots and Kelly Pankratz's short jumper rolled in to beat Minot State. Ironically, all of the wins came at Scott Gymnasium.
The game-winners might not be bad practice either.
The Blue Hawks still have a chance to win the Dakota Athletic Conference regular season championship and have home-court advantage throughout the conference tournament.
"It's going to help us down the line because, come tournament time, that's all you're going to see is close games," Fridley said. "We're battle tested when it comes down to the close games."
A win over Jamestown College at 4 p.m. today would greatly help the 12th-ranked Blue Hawks (18-6, 9-2 DAC) reach their championship goal.
They currently hold a tiebreaker with sixth-ranked Black Hills State (21-5, 10-2 DAC). If both teams were to win the rest of their games in the regular season, DSU would be the No. 1 seed and BHSU would be No. 2 in the conference tournament.
DSU ends its regular season on the road against Mayville State and Dakota State next weekend while BHSU travels to Jamestown and VCSU.
Emmons said the team knows they all have to be clutch in order for them keep winning and capture the conference title. And she knows the 25th-ranked Jimmies (17-7, 7-4) -- who are still in the race for the regular-season title -- aren't going to be slouches. They beat DSU 74-56 on their home court on Jan. 18.
"Each game you play is the biggest game of the season," Emmons said. "This game has so many different stakes put on it. We have to win it."