With each passing game, the Bishop Ryan girls basketball team looks more and more like the top team in the state.
The Lions defense stymied visiting Beulah, forcing 29 turnovers and limiting the Miners to 17 percent shooting in a 79-19 victory Friday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Ryan junior guard Anika Rovig led the defensive effort with a game-high seven steals and the Lions (4-0) held Beulah (1-4) to just five field goals. The Miners made two field goals in the second and third quarters combined, scoring five points over that timespan.
"We're taking care of the ball a little bit better and we've picked up our defense," Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. "If we can do those two things we're going to put together some good ball games."
The Lions committed just eight turnovers.
During that same stretch, the Lions tallied 40 points to stretch the advantage to 48 points at the end of the third quarter.
Ryan never trailed and opened the game on an 11-0 run in the first three minutes to take control of the contest. Sophomore forwards Gabbie Bohl and Hannah Stewart wreaked havoc on the much smaller Beulah squad, scoring at will in the lane. Bohl outscored the entire Beulah team with 20 points and Stewart added 18 along with 15 rebounds. The Lions controlled the glass, outrebounding the Miners 37-14.
The Lions shot 59 percent from the field with many shots coming near the rim.
"That's obviously an advantage and it really helps us on the boards, both offensively and defensively," Julie Stewart said of Hannah and Bohl. "The girls have to get themselves in position to get the rebound. They did some good things to do a nice job defensively."
Rovig orchestrated the Lions' fast-break offense, hitting Bohl and Stewart in transition for easy layups. Rovig finished with a game-high nine assists. She also contributed 13 points, hitting all three of the team's 3-pointers.
"It's just nice because my teammates run the floor well and they're easy to see and they call for the ball when they're open," Rovig said.
Despite the 79-point performance, the Lions were more pleased with their defensive effort.
"We didn't really want to focus on our offense as much as we did our defense because we want to be known as more of a defensive team," Hannah Stewart said. "That was the goal from the beginning."
It wasn't the outcome Beulah coach Rick Miller envisioned, but he found positives in his team's performance.
"We played hard and didn't quit," he said. "So we want to take away from this that no matter what the score was we'll get stronger from this. It does nothing but benefit. The girls might not think it, but it does. It makes you physically stronger and work that much harder."
After allowing 107 points in two games against Thompson and New Town to open the season, the Lions have surrendered 43 points in their last two contests.
The Lions play at Westhope-Newburg on Thursday at 5:45 p.m.