Article by Harry Lipsiea, Devils Lake Journal Sports, February 9th, 2017.
While the scores look similar, the Lake Region State College women's basketball team felt better about its performance Wednesday evening than it did on Jan. 16. On both evenings, the squad fell by five points to Dawson Community College. The Royals, however, were able to fix a lot of their mistakes against the Buccaneers the second time around.
In the end, Dawson picked up an 85-80 victory in a game that went down to the wire. Ultimately, it was an improved performance by the Royals despite the loss.
"It is tough, because I thought we did a lot of things really well today. The girls took care of things we didn't the first time around," Danny Mertens, third-year LRSC head coach, stated. "In the end, we just made too many mistakes to come out with a win. I thought it was a much better effort and performance than we had against them on the road."
One statistic that ultimately stands out was 29 turnovers by the Royals. Mertens noted that he was pleased with his team's ability to beat the pressure of Dawson this time around. Many of the turnovers, however, came in halfcourt situations.
"We really did a nice job against their press," Mertens pointed out. "They threw a lot of different things at us and our girls handled it really well. At the end of the day, we just had way too many times that we threw the ball out of bounds. If we are able to limit two or three of those, it's a completely different game."
It was a tight game throughout, that featured 10 lead changes. LRSC trailed 19-18 after one period of play before taking a 35-34 advantage at the half.
The third quarter was extremely interesting. Threes by Mackenzie Irwin and Emily Schafer along with inside buckets by Cassidy Nelson gave LRSC a 55-43 lead midway through the quarter. Dawson, however, battled back in a hurry. Inside points by Maria Zimdars and Janae Strode helped the Buccaneers battle back. A three by Alexis Clingingsmith got DCC within one at 60-59 in favor of Lake Region State College going into the fourth.
The Royals got out to a nice start in the final period. Threes by Schafer and Jillian Hanson gave the home team a seven-point lead midway through the quarter.
Dawson, slowly but surely, battled its way back. Jumpers by Strode and Clingingsmith and Alexis Vanstory gave their team a 79-76 lead with a minute remaining. A drive and a bucket for Schafer cut LRSC's deficit to one point late. Timely free-throw shooting, however, made the difference for the Buccaneers. Strode, Zimdars and Clingingsmith added points at the line to help Dawson earn the 85-80 victory.
"They are a nice team. Dawson has come a long way since last season. It's a squad dominated by sophomores," Mertens said. "They are going to be a tough team to contend with down the stretch. With that said, it was a winnable game for us."
A trio of players did most of the scoring for Lake Region State College. Nelson finished with 22 points while Irwin added 21. Schafer chipped in with 19. Mer Gach and Jillian Hanson each netted five points off the bench. Mikayla Wallace, Ella Gobald, Jaden Hanson and Jadyn Fee rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.
Lake Region State College is back at home Sunday against North Dakota State College of Science. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
"It's another game that I believe that is winnable," Mertens said regarding the clash against the Mon-Dak's top team. "We will need to come out, play with energy and continue to trust the process."