In the battle of the unbeatens, the Huskies maintained their perfect record, beating Bemidji State University 81-53 in a David vs. Goliath battle.
The Huskies came out in the first half with a purpose and took it to the Beavers, going into halftime with a 42-26 lead and ending the first half on a 12-3 run. On the night, the Huskies shot 49 percent from the field, which was one of the reasons the Huskies made it look easy in their blowout victory.
“You know, we had mismatches inside and that caused them to go to a zone defense and we just kept hitting shots,” said Lori Fish, head coach. “It’s always nice playing with the lead going into the second half, and it’s a lot easier to coach.”
Two Huskies were in double figures to end the half, with sophomore forward Jessica Benson scoring 11 points and senior guard Sam Price scoring 10 points. It was not a shock to see Benson and Price lead the Huskies as they have become a deadly one-two punch.
“We’re not surprised that those two had double figures, but we got to find a third player who can constantly get us double figures as well,” Fish said.
Benson and Price led the Huskies in scoring with 15 points each, which isn’t a surprise: they both have led or tied for the lead in scoring every game this season.
“I felt a little off tonight, but it is what it is,” Price said. “I’m just glad that we finally got some size because in my three years here we haven’t had that.”
Defensively the Huskies were stout once again, making the Beavers commit 27 turnovers and five steals by ball-hawking and staying right up in the Beavers’ face all night.
“That’s huge because that’s the biggest thing is forcing turnovers,” Price said. “We get a lot of our points off turnovers so it was big.”
For the most part the Huskies kept the Beavers’ big two in check all night, holding junior guard Morgan Lee to 3 points and junior center Kate Warmack to a quiet 7 points; impressive, since she’s averaging 17.6 a game.
“I think because our guards put so much pressure on the ball we take away what people want to do,” Fish said. “It limits some of the post-touches and we play great on both defenses.”
The Huskies were hot from downtown all night, shooting 39 percent from behind the arc. They are not known for taking a lot of three-pointers, but they did this game, taking 18 threes, and they made the Beavers pay.
Usually the Huskies are known for being a fast-break team, creating a majority of their points off turnovers, which they did. In Friday’s game, the Huskies played an all-around game and that was their goal coming into the night against the undefeated Beavers.
“Yeah we work on it, we sure do because we have great shooters and tonight they were dropping, but it’s something we definitely work on,” Fish said.
Rebounding was an area of concern for the Huskies heading into this game and that troubled Fish because the Huskies tend to shy away from the boards. But the Huskies did out-rebound the Beavers in the game.
“I thought we rebounded the ball well and I think Emma and Karissa came off the bench and sparked that for us,” Fish said. “We’ve really been working on that and it’s fun to watch.”
The Huskies size came into play all night because they worked the ball inside and out for a majority of their points on the night. Most of their big players are freshmen, and three of them saw significant playing time early and often.
“We have to give them more minutes so they can feel more comfortable, especially when we play back-to-back,” Fish said. “They came in and gave us a good spark.”
The entire roster saw playing time in the game as the Huskies largest lead of the game was 29 points, so Fish was able to get some players game-time action that they otherwise would not likely have been able to see if they weren’t up by so much.
“It’s always nice to let everyone play because they all work so hard in practice, so it’s a nice reward for them,” Fish said.
Coming into Saturday’s afternoon game, the Huskies entered with a record of 6-0. After beating the Crookston Golden Eagles (3-4), the Huskies (7-0, 3-0) have now won seven straight and have their best opening record in four years.
The Huskies started off with a ferocious pace, getting to a 14-2 lead to start the game, but ended the half ahead just 33-28.
The Huskies shot 11 out of 25 FG and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc during the first half.
In the second half, both teams had their opportunities. The Golden Eagles pulled within their closest margin of the game, 4 points, with 4:25 left in the game.
That is when the Huskies turned on the afterburners and finished off the Golden Eagles for good.
Junior guard Rachael Moen sank a key three pointer late in the game. She finished with 11 points, shooting 4 out of 7 from the field and 3 out of 5 from three point range.
“We just wanted to come out strong and play better than we did the first half, we couldn’t get into a good run we just knew that they were still going to come out and fight against us and we just had to do it right back,” Moen said after the game. “We just wanted to contain and keep them in front of us, not let them drive and kick on us. We just couldn’t let them get the big shots.”
Junior guard Sam Price finished with 16 points. She made 4 out of 9 shots from behind the arc and finished with a season-high six rebounds and earned three steals.
Sophomore forward Jessica Benson played a stellar defensive game for the Huskies, grabbing 10 rebounds for SCSU and adding another 10 points. It was her second double-double of the year.
“We stuck together, we kept working hard. The game was difficult throughout the whole night. We just hung in there and we found a way to get it done,” said head coach Lori Fish after the game. “It’s one of those things, there are no style points, it’s not pretty sometimes, we are not always going to be pretty, but we figured it out and I’m really pleased that we figured out a way to win.”
St. Cloud State will return next weekend as they travel to Aberdeen, S.D. and Moorhead to take on Northern State and MSU-Moorhead.
It will be a tough test for the Huskies, who have yet to be tested on the road this season.