Dickinson State had a decent outing in the NAIA Classic on Nov. 14 and 15 in South Dakota in playing two teams of the GPAC division, one of the top conferences in the NAIA, in the pentagon, a larger scale court in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Despite falling hard against Dakota Wesleyan University on Saturday, the Blue Hawks bounced back to earn its first victory of the season against Mount Marty University on Sunday.
"I thought we played really, really well defensively both nights," head coach Eric Nelson said. "We held Dakota Wesleyan to 75, held Mount Marty to 60, and I thought we did a really good job there."
The Blue Hawks (1-2) struggled in the early goings of Saturday's game against the Tigers (2-0), ending the first quarter trailing 19-9. Following the first quarter, the Blue Hawks began to connect with on its field goal attempts but went into the half with a 39-25 deficit.
The Blue Hawks were able to merely outscore Dakota Wesleyan in the third, 20-18, but were outscored in the fourth 19-10, losing the game 76-55.
Dickinson State struggled from the field, connecting on only 31% of its shots, 22% from 3-point range, compared to the Tigers' 50% from the field and 36% from deep. The Blue Hawks were also heavily dominated on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 42-28.
Blue Hawks senior guard Shali Sheridan came off the bench in the game, but led the team in points with 11 in 16 minutes of play. Sophomore forward Loryn Schoelerman led the team in minutes with 28 and finished with nine points, and rebounds with six.
"In the first game we didn't play as well offensively as we would have liked," Nelson said. "We got a lot of looks, we just didn't make them ... anytime you play in a bigger arena like the Pentagon it's tougher on shooters. There's open areas, it's an unfamiliar gym and I think kind of made a difference in that first game."
Despite falling in the first game, the Blue Hawks came back with a vengeance Sunday against the Lancers (2-1).
The team repeated its slow start, ending the first quarter by trailing 21-14 but went into the half by only trailing 30-26.
The Blue Hawks came out of the lockerroom ready to earn its first win of the season, connecting on 55% of its shots from the field, and hitting six 3-pointers in alone in the quarter. The team hit only one 3-pointer in the first half. In total, Dickinson State outscored Mount Marty 33-13 in the third quarter to take a 59-43 lead.
The scoring went back and forth in the fourth quarter, neither team able to get a solid run as the other quickly with a bucket of its own. In the end, the Lancers were able to outscore the Blue Hawks 22-21, but Dickinson State pulled out an 80-65 win. Officially earning its first win of the season.
Senior guard Ashlie Watts led the Blue Hawks with 22 points on 47% from the field and hitting 60% from deep in 26 minutes of play. Watts also snatched five rebounds. Junior forward Juliana Ribeiro came off the bench but scored nine points, led the team in rebounds with eight, tallied two blocks, and and four assists in 23 minutes of play.
"I think the girls got more comfortable," Nelson said. "We had only one shoot around before our first game, and that obviously wasn't enough. Then we got a game under our belt and another shoot around and another half. The girls were just more comfortable.
"Plus, the energy was contagious," Nelson added. "When shots are going in for one person it seems like it goes in for every body else and I think that was a big part of it."
With both games being completed, Nelson said the biggest takeaway from the weekend was the Blue Hawks' ability to consistently play solid defense against both opponents.
"Offense is kind of hit-or-miss ... but defense travels," Nelson said. "I thought we did a really, really good job on defense in both games ... I think our defense really kept us in both games and we're going to keep that moving forward and I think the girls realized that if we continue to hold teams down like that, it doesn't really matter what we do on offense, we're going to be in the game."
Following its 1-1 split, the Blue Hawks now look toward to the PC Classic in Aberdeen, S.D. The classic will also allow the Blue Hawks to have a shot at two NSAA conference opponents, but the games will be labeled nonconference due to the classic. The Blue Hawks will play Presentation College on Friday, Nov. 13, and Mayville State on Saturday, Nov. 14.