For the second time this season, the Truman State University women’s basketball team faced off against the University of Missouri-St. Louis last Tuesday, defeating the Tritons 75 to 63.
The Bulldogs now have a conference record of eight and two, moving on to a four-game winning streak.
Forward Ellie Weltha dominated the game for the ’Dogs, setting a personal record of 26 points in a game and beating her previous high of 16 points.
Guard Katey Klucking, who scored 11 points over an impressive 38 minutes of gameplay, said any time the Bulldogs face a team for a second time, there’s the opportunity to correct mistakes and continue making the plays that were successful.
“We are looking to continue to attack the basket, make the extra pass, shoot the 3, rebound and play one-on-one defense and help when needed,” Klucking said before the game against UMSL. “If we do these things, we will easily come out with a W. Holding one another accountable for the things they need to do individually so we can collectively be successful will be important because if everyone does something to make themselves 1% better, we will collectively be 20% better.”
Head Coach Theo Dean said despite the COVID-19 pandemic creating complications, the women’s basketball team has been largely successful this season.
“Our girls are really just coming together this year, despite everything with the pandemic and all the uncertainties that it’s caused,” Dean said. “Our girls have really done a great job since they got back last fall with just banding together [and] working hard as a team, and it’s really showing on the court for them.”
Dean said the team will be working on turnovers and rebounds as the last few games saw an increase in missed opportunities in those areas. The team is also working with a new defensive system this season, which Dean said is still taking some adjustment time, especially for the upperclassmen.
Despite having one of the top rebounders in the conference with Weltha, Dean said he wants to set the bar high for the ’Dogs in all aspects of the game.
“I think we could do a little better on the offensive rebound side,” Dean said. “A lot of times it’s hard for us to do it because we’re shooting close to 50-57% in some games, so there aren’t a lot of shots to go get.”
Dean said the team plays unselfishly and holds each other accountable, which is due in large part to the chemistry created off the court.
Because of the pandemic, Dean said the team has had to approach bonding differently than in previous years. The traditional two or three team dinners at Dean’s house, for example, were canceled.
“They have certain days each week where we’re okay with them getting together and certain days in the week where they can’t,” Dean said. “They still occasionally watch ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ together, but it’s a little bit different. They might have to do it at a couple houses versus going to one house or just watch it with their roommates.”
Dean said he’s also been exploring ways to get the team together off the court, like watching game footage together in a classroom.
This team dynamic often presents itself on the court and leader boards. Dean said the team is leading the conference in assists, averaging 18-19 assists per game, and each game sees a new player approaching or scoring 20 points.There have even been some games with each member of the starting five scoring in double digits.
The women’s basketball team competes next against William Jewell College on Saturday, Jan. 23. Spectators are not permitted to attend, but the game will be live-streamed by the Great Lakes Valley Conference Sports Network.