Tori Wortz goes up for two. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Whaley
The St. Cloud State women’s basketball team has been having a good season. They came into the weekend in second place in the NSIC North, with a 9-3 overall record. The team had some inconsistencies, but they were starting to get hot. After coming off a sweep against Crookston, the Huskies would be looking to take on the #1 team in the conference – the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were undefeated so far in 2021, so this could be the toughest team SCSU has seen so far in the season.
Since the Huskies were already second place coming into the weekend, their ticket to the postseason was basically already punched. They certainly didn’t need to win these games, but it would be the icing on the take if they were able to topple arguably the best team in the conference. Considering this series would also be on the road in Duluth, that would tack on another obstacle in the game.
Tip-off for Friday nights battle was set for 6 p.m. in Romano Gymnasium. Both teams were very competitive in the first quarter, trying to play their best defense. It was pretty obvious that both teams weren’t trying to take too many risks. The first quarter was rough for the Huskies offense, but was good for their defense. They held UMD to only 11 points in the first ten points. But, they made a mere four of 19 shots from the field, not a good sign. After the first ten minutes, the Huskies held a slim lead of 12-11.
The second quarter showed the Huskies fixing their shooting troubles, while keeping their defensive excellence. The team overall seemed more relaxed and focused, shooting 8-16 this time, much better than their 20% from their first quarter. They also were 2-2 on three’s, and 4-4 on free throw’s. The Bulldogs just weren’t shooting much at all, which is probably due to the defense keeping them at bay. In the second quarter, the Huskies kept the #1 team to only single digits (nine point), which was a huge confidence boost. After the first half, the Huskies held a dominant 34-20 lead.
Coming back after the half, the third quarter was very similar to the first. Both teams were very back and forth. Duluth, again, only shot and made four baskets from the field (the exact same number as the first and second). St. Cloud could’ve been much more dominant in this quarter, but they only were shooting 25%, not great. The last ten minutes in the fourth quarter were a battle, as Duluth was trying to rally and uphold their undefeated reputation. UMD would outscore the Huskies in the fourth, but it wouldn’t be enough. St. Cloud State would topple the undefeated #1 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, 60-49.
For standout players, Brooke Olson of UMD contributed almost half of their points with 22. SCSU had lots of players contributing, including leader Brehna Evans with 17 points and seven rebounds. Nikki Kilboten also helped out a lot with 12 points and a game high high rebounds. Katrina Theis also tacked on 12 points to secure the win. An interesting statistic that the Huskies also were 100% on free throw’s which likely helped round out their offense.
After pulling off the huge upset win against Duluth, St. Cloud would be looking to complete the sweep. Tip-off this time was at 4 p.m. again in Romano Gymnasium in Duluth. In the first quarter right away the Huskies came out of the gate with fire. Solid defense is the key to the Huskies success over the Bulldogs in the first ten minutes. SCSU was again not shooting very well, under 50%, but their defenders would hold UMD to a mere 13 points to their 21 in the first quarter. The second quarter made things slow down quite a bit. This time Duluth wasn’t shooting well in the 2nd, but both teams would tack on 12 points to end the half with an SCSU 33-25 lead.
Coming back after the half, the Huskies would look to keep their lead, but Duluth simply wouldn’t let that happen. A high scoring third quarter showed a bit of a rally for UMD, and both teams would shoot their best in this quarter. The last ten minutes, the Huskies still had a 51-45 lead. SCSU unfortunately just completely fell apart in the fourth. They shot a mere 4-15 and 1-7 from the field and for three’s, respectively (ouch). A main reason why Duluth tacked on so many last minute points could likely be due to the fact that they had 12 free throw opportunities compared to none for the Huskies. After a breakdown in the fourth, Duluth would just barely scrape by and clinch the win 69-60, to split the weekend.
Again, the Huskies were 100% for free throw’s on Saturday which was cool to see. For this game, Tori Wortz was the star with a whopping 25 points. Nikki Kilboten also did well with 11 points and nine rebounds. A reason why this game was so rough is likely because Brehna Evans had a very off game. She was only 1-11 in shots, and only scored a mere three points compared to her usual 16. Brooke Olson shined for UMD again, with a 26 point and 13 rebound game high.
And Now…Onto The Postseason
After the regular season was completed. Three Huskies were honored by the NSIC conference. Brehna Evans earned the honor of Defense Player of the Year and also was named to the First Team All-Conference. Tori Wortz also was named to the First Team All-Conference roster. Nikki Kilboten was also honored by getting added to the Second Team All-NSIC honors. A huge congratulations goes out to these players for their spectacular impact on the 2021 season.
Since the Huskies have officially entered into the postseason, they’ll be starting tournament play this week. SCSU has claimed the #2 seed in the NSIC North. They’ll travel to Sioux Falls with hopes of becoming number one. The Huskies will kick-off the tournament on Friday, set to take on MSU-Mankato – the #3 seed in the NSIC South. The game is set for 1 p.m. on Friday.
If the Huskies succeed on Friday, they’ll play again Saturday. This game would be at 1 p.m.. Augustana has already won their quarterfinal against MSU-Moorhead, so that’s who the Huskies would take on next if they clinch the win.
The Huskies have continued to prove that they can play with the best, but they’ll have to make sure to keep consistent and focus on making baskets if they want to progress in the 2021 NSIC Tournament.
Sydney is a Mass Communications major with a focus in Creative Media Production and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric Studies and will be graduating in Spring of 2021. Sydney is UTVS News Director and the music director at KVSC. She is also a nationally qualified speaker on the speech and debate team. In her free time she loves to play music, watch SCSU hockey games, and play dorky video games with her friends. Connect with her on social media @sydneyisawolf.