The St. Cloud State women’s basketball team hasn’t played since Dec. 15. That’s a three-week layoff for a team that has gotten off to a 4-1 start in the NSIC and 8-1 overall.
The Huskies are host to the University of Mary (3-2, 8-3) as they get back to NSIC play at 6 p.m. Friday at Halenbeck Hall. That’s followed by a 4 p.m. game Sunday against new NSIC member Minot State.
But the Huskies may be without the services of freshman forward Lexy Petermann, who injured her right knee earlier in the week.
SCSU head coach Lori Fish said it’s “50/50″ as to whether Petermann will play this weekend. Petermann is averaging eight points and three rebounds per game.
“Lexy did something to her knee. It bothered her Monday and we’re waiting for results from the orthopedist. We might have to keep her out,” Fish said. “I’m hoping she can go, but she doesn’t have full range of motion in it. It could be anything from a torn meniscus to a stress fracture. We don’t really know. It’s really bad timing. I’m keeping my hopes up.”
Fish said her team has had some tough practices over the past week since it returned from a week off during Christmas.
“We’ve gotten after it this week and everybody has been working hard. Their bodies were a little sore when they got back, but they’ve gotten over the hump. We’ve gotten back to where we need to be,” Fish said.
The Huskies will have a tough test in Mary on Friday. The Marauders advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year and have two of the top playmakers in the conference in guard Ali Collins and forward Shaunna Knife.
Collins averages 14.8 points, 3 steals and 5 assists per game while Knife averages almost 11 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game.
“Mary’s a team that likes to get to the basket and likes to shoot threes,” Fish said. “Collins and Knife are two of the best players in the NSIC. They can create their own shots and hit mid-range jumpers. We have to figure out ways to keep them out of the paint. I’m not sure if that’s possible. We have to slow them down. Collins is a determined point guard and we have to get the ball out of her hands.”
St. Cloud State point guard Nicole Anderson will have a tough test with trying to stop Collins.
“We’ll mix it up defensively on Collins,” Fish said. “We’ll throw a few people at her. She’s going to be a challenge.”
Minot State is in its first season in the NSIC and has gotten off to a 2-3 start in the conference and 6-3 overall.
The Beavers are led by Carly Boag’s 16.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game.
“Everything goes through Boag,” Fish said. “They bring everything up really high and look to drive on the baseline and attack that way. They do a nice job defensively and mix it up. They confuse you a little bit and want to get you out of your rhythm.”
Fish is calling this a big weekend for her team because she wants the Huskies to start separating themselves from the pack in the conference race.
“We can either stay with the pack this weekend, or start separating ourselves,” she said. “We have a lot of work cut out for us yet.”
The St. Cloud State men’s team got a big boost on Dec. 29 when junior center Tim Bergstraser returned to the lineup against Ashford and promptly delivered nine points in nine minutes of action.
SCSU head coach Kevin Schlagel said Bergstraser’s twice-operated on knee has responded well this week in practice.
“Tim’s doing fine,” Schlage said. “He’s making progress as we go. Each day we’re trying to expand more on what he can do. He got through last week’s game. He felt good after the game and he was just excited to be out there again.”
The Huskies are facing two opponents this weekend who will probably finish at the bottom of the NSIC’s North Division. Mary is 2-3 in the NSIC and 3-6 overall and Minot State is 1-4 in the conference and 2-7 overall. On paper, it looks like it should be an easy weekend for the No. 19 Huskies.
Mary is led by Iowa State transfer Alex Dorr, who averages 15.1 points and 9.1 rebounds a game.
“Their system is a lot like it’s been in the past,” Schlagel said of Mary. “They have a veteran group coming back this year. Dorr is a very good player who can go inside and out. They’re a transition team who can spread you out in the halfcourt. Dorr has expanded his game this year. They move him around more than they did last year. He shoots it very well, and can post up.”
Minot State doesn’t have a player who averages in double figures. The Beavers’ top scorer is Anthony Enriquez at 9.9 points a game. Saturday’s game will be the first-ever game between the two schools.
“They have a first-year coach and I think this is a big transition for them,” Schlagel said. “They’re learning a new style and a new league at the same time. They’re playing a lot of people and they’re well-balanced.”
The Huskies only have four games until Feb. 8. Winning at home is going to be a priority for SCSU in the next few weeks.
“We have to take care of business at Halenbeck,” Schlagel said. “We have to defend our home court.”