Wildcat Women’s Basketball ends losing streak against Beavers

Nate Bope, News Writer

The Wayne State College Women’s Basketball team went 1-1 in games this past weekend. This weekend’s results moved the Wildcats to 10-8 on the season and 6-8 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.  

On Friday, the Wildcats faced off with the Bemidji State Beavers. The Wildcats were riding a five-game losing streak. The streak ended with a 71-55 win for WSC, a game that they never trailed. The Wildcats quickly built on that lead, extending it to as much as 21 before holding an 18-point advantage, 46-28, at the break. The Beavers kept fighting and outscored the Wildcats in the second half, albeit by only two points. 

It was scoring by committee for the Wildcats against the Beavers. Senior forward Kassidy Pingel and sophomore forward Maya Fitzpatrick led the way with 10 points each. They were closely followed by senior guard Lauren Zacharias who had 9. The Wildcat bench players were a big factor, as the Wildcats had 41 points scored by players that didn’t start. The team as a whole shot 36.1 percent, while the Beavers shot only 31.8 percent.  

“That win really helped with our confidence” Head Coach Brent Pollari said. “To be able to get out and control the game the entire way was something that will help build confidence.” 

On Saturday, the Wildcats drew an interesting matchup with the Minnesota-Crookston Golden Eagles. A thrilling contest, which saw WSC close as much as a 13-point gap, and claim the lead late in the game, also saw the Golden Eagles claim a road win 74-72. 

Both teams started off slow from the field. It looked as if there was going to be a low scoring contest, as both teams shot under 30 percent from the field in the first quarter. However, the Wildcats were the team with the better shooting percentage, so they took a 13-7 lead after one period of play. 

Both teams started to heat up in the second quarter, but it was the Golden Eagles with the hotter hand. Freshman guard Emma Miller, the second leading scorer in the NSIC, and redshirt senior Bren Fox took over. The pair shot a combined 5-7 with 13 points, while the team shot 8-13 in the second quarter, as Crookston took the lead into the locker room, 30-28. Interestingly, the Wildcats had yet to shoot a free throw up to this point. 

It is always hard to guard someone who is smaller than you and Miller was a small little girl, but dang could she play,” Zacharias said.  

The third quarter saw Crookston extend their lead, again with some hot shooting from Miller. She had 10 points in the third quarter, including two three-pointers, as Crookston extended their lead 52-45. WSC was still without a free throw attempt. 

The fourth didn’t start as planned for the Wildcats, who with 5:40 left found themselves down 60-49, and trending in the wrong direction. But they wouldn’t give up.  

Zacharias exploded for 18 fourth quarter points on 7-10 shooting from the field. Couple her performance with great press defense from the Wildcats put WSC right back in the game. They forced 11 fourth quarter turnovers and scored 14 points off those turnovers, while also holding the Golden Eagles to only seven shot attempts for those 10 minutes. Despite these efforts, a late bucket from the Golden Eagles’ Fox would seal the game for Crookston, 74-72.  

That game really helped me probably more than anyone will ever know,” Zacharias said. “The game really helped me mentally get back to where I was at the beginning of the season. I’m very determined to finish out the rest of the season strong. 

The Wildcats will be on the road this weekend where they take on 13th ranked Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Friday, January 27 at 7:30 and the St. Cloud State Huskies on Saturday, January 28 at 5:30. Both games can be viewed on the NSIC network.