In the recent PC classic, Dickinson State ended with its second 1-1 classic split of the season. This time against two future conference opponents.
The Blue Hawks (1-2) earned a solid victory over Presentation College on Friday night, but fell to Mayville State on Saturday afternoon.
"We played better this weekend than the weekend before, but we’re still making some of those mistakes in games that we just can’t make," head coach Eric Nelson said. "We’re continuing to get better, but we've still got a long way to go. I do think we’ll get there eventually, but it’s been a slow process."
Against Presentation College (1-7) the Blue Hawks were in an all-out battle from the opening tipoff, neither team allowing the other to break away with the lead. Dickinson State outscored its foes 16-13 to end the first quarter, but went into the half tied with the Saints at 34.
Following the halftime break, the Saints were more aggressive on the rebounds against the Blue Hawks, snatching 13 in the quarter compared to the Blue Hawks' three. The Saints took advantage of the free-throw line, hitting 10 of their 12 attempts from the line. Still, the Blue Hawks continued to hold on as they went into the fourth quarter only trailing 57-53.
Dickinson State heavily picked up its momentum in the fourth quarter, recording 10 rebounds and four steals. Still, Presentation College continued to hold the lead.
With the team down 74-72 and with only 20 seconds remaining, Blue Hawks senior guard Ashlie Watts came away with a clutch steal and found junior forward Courtney Olson, who then sank a 3-pointer to give Dickinson State a 75-74 lead with 16 seconds remaining.
Following a Saints timeout, Blue Hawks senior guard Shali Sheridan forced another clutch steal and was instantly fouled with five seconds remaining. Sheridan capitalized on the moment by draining two clutch free throws to take a 77-74 lead.
Following one final timeout the Saints drained a basket, but it was ruled a two-pointer. Dickinson State took the win 77-76.
"Give PC credit — they played really well too and early on in the year they had a bunch of people out with COVID so they were just kind of getting their full team back," Nelson said. "It was a heck of a game; it really was. Give our girls credit for pulling it out in the end."
Overall, Dickinson State shot 44.6% from the field, with seven of its 25 made buckets coming from behind the 3-point line. Both teams recorded 10 steals, and the Blue Hawks tallied 24 rebounds, compared to Presentation College 37.
Dickinson State junior guard Lilly Kelley led the team against the Saints with 20 points, four rebounds and two steals. Watts and senior guard Abby Johnson both recorded 10 points. Watts also recorded six rebounds, three steals and three assists.
After a solid battle the previous night, the Blue Hawks had to quickly turn around and play another competitive game the next day at noon against the Comets (2-0).
With very little time to regain its stamina, Dickinson State attempted to play its best, even ending the first quarter with a 17-14 lead and had the game tied at 50 with just over a minute to play, but were unable to come out with the overall victory, falling to the Comets 70-64.
As a team, the Blue Hawks shot 42% from the field, but a mere 29% from the 3-point line, hitting only four of its 14 attempts. Dickinson State was able to record nine steals over the Comets, but fell in the rebounding game only being able to snatch 24 boards compared to the Comets' 32.
The Blue Hawks heavily relied on Olson to keep the team in the game. The junior forward ended with 25 points, three assists and three rebounds before she fouled out in the second half. Kelley was the second leader in points with seven.
Despite the loss, Nelson said part of the loss fell on his shoulders.
"It was probably a little bit of my fault," he said. "We played really well defensively, but we definitely struggled in the second quarter … really both teams kind of struggled to find an offensive identity in that second quarter and then we got a little bit tired in that third and fourth quarter defensively and gave up some baskets that we probably shouldn’t have.
"Give Mayville credit — they made the plays when they needed to, but it was really another really close game but unfortunately we just weren’t able to make some of those key plays down the stretch," Nelson added. "When you’re playing in a tight game like that, it comes down to one or two plays, and unfortunately for us we just were unable to make them."
The Blue Hawks ended the weekend with their second 1-1 split of the season, but Nelson said it was a win being able to get a preview of what the NSAA conference has in store when the conference schedule is set to begin in December.
"I’m looking forward to playing Mayville again and I’m sure P.C. will say the same thing about us," Nelson said. "It was good to see what some of the conference teams looked like early on in the year."
The Blue Hawks now prepare for their toughest challenge to date as the team challenges No. 20-ranked Carroll College on the road on Friday.