MSU women’s basketball falls in exhibition game to DSU 87-75

DICKINSON – Midway through the fourth quarter on Wednesday, Dickinson State point guard Taylor Henningsgard looked into the post for center Megan Klein. She missed the window of opportunity for an entry pass by a split second, and they both knew it.

They both flashed a smile and regrouped. Henningsgard pulled back to the 3-point line, and Klein set a pick to the Minot State defender’s right, freeing Henningsgard for a long two-pointer that found the bottom of the net.

The Blue Hawks were already comfortably ahead, but the sequence simply encapsulated Dickinson State’s success against the Beavers in its season-opener at Scott Gymnasium. Nearly everything seemed to be working in DSU’s favor in its 87-75 win over Minot State, the Blue Hawks’ fourth straight victory over an NCAA Division II opponent by double-digits.

“What’s exciting for us is this game, we didn’t play to our full potential. This was jitters,” said Klein, who led all players with 26 points and 14 rebounds. “I’m excited to see what more we can bring to the table.”

Dickinson State (1-0), which defeated Minot State twice last season, led 27-19 after the first quarter and the lead swelled from there. The Blue Hawks led by 15 at halftime and by 16 after three quarters. They shot 43.2 percent from the field, posting 17 assists on 32 baskets.

DSU suffered a setback in its front court depth with a knee injury to senior Leslie Beaudoin in the game’s first five minutes.

“When Megan came out, we were so small, and we got hurt bad (on the boards),” Blue Hawks head coach Mark Graupe said.

Without Beaudoin when Klein came out of the game, the young Beavers team with just two seniors hung around with some scrappy rebounding. MSU ended with 21 offensive boards and was only outrebounded by one, 49-48.

“If you’re not hitting shots, you have to get second opportunities,” MSU head coach Sheila Green Gerding said, “and I thought we were pretty aggressive on the boards. I think we did a fairly good job defensively. It’s tough to say you did a good job because they shoot it so well, but I thought we stuck to our game plan.

“But I think the lack of game experience and the lack of practices probably showed through.”

MSU sophomore Madison Wald led her team with 18 points, and classmate Kari Clements followed with 16. Senior Kori Eurich supplied 11 points.

On DSU’s side, the Blue Hawks made eight 3-pointers, including four from junior Ashley Bentz-Laub, who finished with 21 points. Paitton Herbst added a pair of 3-pointers, and DSU got one each from Lorna Shepherd and Henningsgard.

Henningsgard tallied a double-double as well, with 18 points to go with 10 assists.

“Her knowledge is unbelievable. She’s the smartest basketball player I’ve ever met,” Klein said of Henningsgard. “She sees everything, and if you’re open, that ball is going to get to you.”

For her part, Henningsgard felt comfortable after the long preseason and said she was confident her teammates would find their shots.

“If I can find the smallest window, I’ll throw it, and I know they’ll finish,” Henningsgard said. “I think we have a well-balanced team. Three players in double-digits, but it could be a different three a next game. That’s how many scorers we have.”

All but one Blue Hawk who entered the game entered the scoring column, which Graupe found promising, but he echoed the sentiments of his players that they can still play better.

“We don’t feel like we played well at all tonight, and that’s kind of a nice thing,” he said. “That’s not a knock on MSU at all, but our girls knew they could play better. That was their thought process and as a coach, and I like that.”

Wednesday counted toward DSU’s overall record, but was simply an exhibition for the Beavers. The teams will meet again Nov. 16 in Minot in a regular season game for MSU.

By that time, Green Gerding expects her team to be a little more seasoned.

“We’ve been nine practices into it, so we’re learning,” she said, “and I thought we made strides as the game went on.”