Starting with a matchup against undefeated Drury University and former head coach Amy Eagan, the Bulldogs were downed by a score of 77-56. Despite a fight from the ’Dogs, the Drury Lady Panthers dominated the game with a 28-point lead from which Truman State University never recovered.
Guard Sloane Totta, the team’s only senior and a key player this season, sprained her ankle in the first half, rendering her unable to play for the rest of the regular season.
“I’m hoping to be back by conference, but we’ll see,” Totta said. “I’m disappointed, but my team is good and it’s been fun watching them.”
Totta said the game overall was disappointing because she felt excited and prepared going in, but she was unable to play the second half and the team ultimately lost.
Guard Katey Klucking said she thought the team felt somewhat lost without Totta on the court. She said the game against Drury was rough, but the team knew going in that it would be a difficult game.
“We wanted to beat them but that didn’t happen,” Klucking said. “Sloane went down in the first half, which is kind of difficult when your only senior — who is also not just influential on the floor but just as a leader she’s influential — goes down like that it’s kind of hard to pick up the pieces.”
The following Saturday the team faced Southwest Baptist University for Senior Day. As the only senior on the team, Totta was the only Bulldog to be recognized. The ’Dogs won the season’s last game at Pershing Arena 80-66.
Klucking said the Bulldogs picked it back up in the game against SBU. Not only was the team shooting well, she said, but it also found a rhythm that didn’t need to incorporate Totta, who was still out for injury. Without Totta, the team had to learn how to manage offensively without one of its prominent scorers.
“We had to learn how to play without her,” Klucking said. “That’s 15 points a game that we didn’t have, but luckily we were hitting our shots and rebounding well and playing good defense. So we got the win there, but obviously we want [Totta] back.”
Totta was still present at the game and watching from the bench, which allowed her more time to observe the SBU Bearcats and give insight to the other players. This insight was valuable, Klucking said, as the Bulldogs won the game and set a school record in conference game wins.
“They played super well,” Totta said. “They shot lights out so that was really fun watching them on offense. I thought they shared the ball really well. It’s really hard to beat us when we’re shooting that well.”
The Bulldogs then travelled to Maryville University to beat the Saints 84-83 in overtime. The team was led by center Katie Jaseckas who scored a career record of 29 points and grabbed a career record of 19 rebounds. Guard Hannah Belanger scored 23 points while guard Tiffany Davenport and forward Hannah Pinkston put up nine and eight points, respectively.
Head coach Theo Dean said he thought the game against Maryville went well.
“It was huge for our teams to come together for a tough road game against Maryville, especially without Sloane,” Dean said. “We were able to fight back, and then remain strong in the overtime victory.”
Truman then travelled to Rolla, Missouri, to face off against Missouri University of Science and Technology. The ’Dogs ran away with a 62-52 win over the Miners thanks in large part to Jaseckas who scored 23 points. Forward Maya Mouton grabbed nine points for the Bulldogs while Belanger got eight and forward Maddie Re secured seven.
“Against S&T, it was another opportunity for our team to go 2-0 against a conference opponent,” Dean said. “That’s a feat that is not easily done, especially with how tough our conference naturally is. Though both games were closer than I would’ve wanted, I did expect us to win both as long as we came out and gave 100% effort.”
The women’s basketball team is now heading to the postseason to face No. 5 Lindenwood University at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 6. Despite being ranked No. 2 in the conference, the Bulldogs are the fourth seed because the rankings were set by a GLVC system that weighs wins and losses and opponents’ winning percentage.
Dean said he is excited to make the postseason in his first year.
“It’s a great experience for all of our players and something that you don’t want to take for granted,” Dean said. “I think we have a great opportunity to be successful and I will do my job to stress to our players how important it is to give everything they have at this time, because it is truly ‘win or go home.’”