First the Bulldogs traveled to Evansville, Indiana, to take on the Screaming Eagles of the University of Southern Indiana. Early in the game the Eagles had no answer for the fast-paced offense of the Bulldogs. Guard Hannah Belanger led the Bulldogs in the first half with 15 points and five assists. Center Katie Jaseckas, who finished the game with 21 points — 13 of which came in the first half — proved to be too much for the Eagles. The ’Dogs took advantage of the Eagles’ weak defense in the paint, outscoring Southern Indiana by ten points inside. After posting 89 points and a 30-point win against the Eagles, the team’s highest margin of victory this season, the Bulldog offense appears to have found its rhythm. Guard Nicole Dorn believes this rhythm comes from the team’s newfound confidence on the court.
“I’d say the biggest difference from the beginning of the season to now is our confidence in ourselves,” Dorn said. “In the beginning we all were unsure of how the season was going to go, but now we know our capabilities and what we can do and know we all have each others’ back.”
This confidence was on full display at the team’s next game against McKendree University. After a back and forth game the Bulldogs entered the fourth quarter up by only four points, and needed their high octane offense to answer the call. As the quarter opened up, the Bulldogs looked to push the pace early, going on a quick 8-2 run to stretch their lead from four to nine. Following the run, the Bulldogs did not take their foot off the pedal. The ’Dogs scored 28 points in the quarter and ended up winning the game by 17 points.
The success of the women’s basketball team might come as a surprise to some, as the team has lost multiple impactful seniors and their head coach from a year ago, but Jaseckas says new head coach Theo Dean has been the reason the team has performed so well under adverse conditions.
“I think he has done a fantastic job this season,” Jaseckas said. “I give him a lot of credit for our recent success. He’s our biggest supporter which I think is the biggest thing we, as a pretty young team, need. We have all the keys to be a great team and he has done an amazing job of putting them all together and giving us the confidence we need to succeed.”
The Bulldogs have now put themselves in a position to continue this success deep into the postseason. With a conference record of 9-1, the Bulldogs now sit at second in the GLVC behind their ex-head coach and the Drury University Panthers. With about half of the conference schedule remaining, the Bulldogs have set their sights on qualifying for the GLVC tournament by placing in the top eight in conference play. Dorn said Dean constantly reminds them that the team must continue to get better every day if they want to reach these goals.
“The team’s goal for the second half of the season is to keep improving,” Dorn said. “Coach T always says that what got us to where we’re at isn’t good enough anymore and we need to keep growing.”