With four regular-season games remaining, Minot State women's basketball coach Sheila Green Gerding says the Beavers' backs are against the wall.
Last weekend, MSU (15-7 overall, 11-7 Northern Sun) split a pair of road contests against the NSIC North Division's bottom-dwellers, Bemidji State and Minnesota Crookston. The Beavers held on to a share of second place, but the split leaves them much less wiggle room. University of Mary is also 11-7 in conference play, while Minnesota State-Moorhead and St. Cloud State are one and two games back, respectively.
"Quite honestly, we were in a really good position last weekend if we get a sweep," Gerding said. "Losing to Crookston probably didn't help us any; kind of put our backs against the wall.
MDN File Photo
Katie Hardy and the Minot State women’s
basketball team host Sioux Falls tonight at 6.
"We want to finish in the top half of our league. We want to host a playoff game."
To do so, a sweep of Sioux Falls and Southwest Minnesota State tonight and Saturday at the MSU Dome would be a good start.
The Cougars (12-10, 8-10) are fresh off a pair of road losses to Concordia-St. Paul and Minnesota State-Mankato. The Mustangs (4-18, 2-16), losers of three straight, also fell to Mankato and C-SP last weekend.
"There's a sense of urgency with it as well in the fact that these are two games that we really need to perform well and feel like we're making strides and improving," Green Gerding said, "because we really felt like we took a couple steps backward last week not executing well offensively and not performing well on back-to-back nights."
A sense of urgency is a theme to Sioux Falls' quick-fire offense. The Cougars have launched a conference-high 564 shots from 3-point land - 26.5 per game.
"They've got a lot of people that can fire and actually hit pretty consistently from there," Green Gerding said. "But they still bring post presence and penetration, so it's not like they're one-dimensional. So if their 3s aren't going, they'll find another way to score."
Saturday's 4 p.m. matchup against SMSU is Senior Day. Forward Carly Boag and point guard Alisha "Speedy" Jones will be honored.
The Mustangs are 1-10 in games decided by 10 points or less.
"They're still scrappin' and scraping and finding a way to make it tough," Green Gerding said. "They're a scary team coming in here."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.