Women’s basketball team heats up over a cold winter break, winning six of eight games.
The women’s basketball team has been rolling since the fall semester ended in mid December. Going into the break the Bulldogs boasted a 5-2 record and were 1-0 in GLVC play.
The ’Dogs first game over break came on the road against the University of Sioux Falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Cougars entered the game on a two-game losing streak but were still ranked No. 18 in Div. II coming into the matchup. Despite shooting over 50% from the three point line and a strong 20-point performance by guard Hannah Belanger, the Bulldogs were unable to slow the Cougars’ powerful offense and eventually lost the game 79-62. This game marked the Bulldogs final non-conference matchup before their grueling 19-game conference schedule began.
The first two of the team’s conference games came on the road in Kansas City against the Cardinals of William Jewell College followed by a matchup against the Hawks of Rockhurst University. After losing their third game of the season, the Bulldogs were eager to prove they still belonged at the top of the GLVC and wasted no time on their trip to Kansas City. The Bulldogs jumped on William Jewell early, going up 10 after the first quarter, and led the game from start to finish. This dominating win was followed by another matchup in Kansas City later that weekend against Rockhurst University, but for their second game of the trip the team would have to operate without starting center Katie Jaseckas, who was unable to play because of illness. Jaseckas’ absence proved to be no problem for the Bulldogs, however, as they plucked the Hawks and continued their winning ways by a score of 91-70.
With the teams two highest scoring games coming in the same weekend there was no doubt the Bulldog’s were finding their stride on offense. Early in the season head coach Theo Dean said that the team wanted to increase its pace of play and look to push the ball forward in transition.
“We play fast, but we want to play faster,” Dean said. “Every time we get the ball we’re looking to push. That’s the way we play and I think it really does make the game more fun. It’s more fun to play and it makes it more fun to watch.”
Following their road sweep the Bulldogs returned home to Pershing Arena for a four-game stretch. After burying the Miners of the Missouri University of Science and Technology in their first home game, the Bulldogs found themselves in a dog fight with the Saints of Maryville University. After more than three quarters of the two teams trading blows like prized fighters, Truman was down one point with under three seconds remaining. Dean called a timeout and drew up the potential game winning play for the Bulldogs. After the timeout, guard Sloane Totta inbounded the ball and threw an alley-oop to the rim for forward Maddie Re who finished the layup and gave Truman a one-point lead with less than a second on the clock. After the Saints missed the potential game winning shot, the Bulldogs celebrated their fourth straight conference win by a score of 78-77.
The following week the Bulldogs were back in action at home on Thursday, Jan. 16 against the University of Illinois-Springfield. The surging ’Dogs continued their dominant ways, and rattled off their fifth straight win with the help of guard Hannah Belanger’s career high 29 points, which included five three-point field goals.
In the second game of their weekend series Truman finally met its match in the Flyers of Lewis University. Both teams entered the game undefeated in the GLVC, fighting for one of the top two spots next to No. 1 ranked Drury University. The Bulldogs battled through the first half and found themselves up seven at the break, but a slow third quarter halted Truman’s momentum. After getting outscored 24-8 in the third the ’Dogs had to climb their way out of a nine point deficit to give guard Katey Klucking a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but the sophomore’s three pointer fell just short as the horn sounded. The Bulldogs dropped their first conference game of the season by a score of 80-79.
Following the disappointing loss the Bulldogs faced a quick turnaround with another conference game against Quincy University just two days later on Monday, Jan. 20, in Quincy, Illinois. Truman defeated Quincy earlier this season by 20 points at home, but the battle tested Hawks would not be put away so easily this time around. The Bulldogs struggled to put the ball in the basket on the road, shooting just 38% from the field and 26% from beyond the three-point line for the game. This forced the Bulldogs to rely on their defense to down their conference rival, allowing just 57 points total and no more than 16 in a single quarter.
This team has proven to be another powerful force in the GLVC, similar to last season, but Re believes that this season’s team can not only follow in the footsteps of the record-setting teams that have shared their locker room, but can take the next step towards a championship, too.
“To improve on our great season from last year and to take that next step our returners just have to do a great job of leading our new kids, and holding them and each other to high expectations,” Re said. “Our recent alumni have done a great job instilling Truman’s tradition in us, and now that’s on us to keep it going.”
Following their 64-57 road victory, the Bulldogs now sit at 11-4 overall and 7-1 in the GLVC. Now more than halfway through their schedule, the team has solidified themselves as one of the top contenders in the GLVC and a legitimate threat to make the NCAA tournament.