After months of fighting injuries, the ORU women’s basketball has completed their regular season and are preparing for the Summit League Tournament. The team closed the season with a 71-64 victory over North Dakota State on Feb. 25.
The team played with nine healthy players in back to back games for the first time since Jan. 21 in the win over the Bison last Saturday.
“We had a football team. Nine whole bodies,” said Head Coach Misti Cussen. “There are glimpses of who we were before the cycle of injury began. At different times, we had up to four starters who were hurt this year. At times it’s been almost laughable with what we have dealt with.”
Now healthy, the team will look to regain a rhythm and build the success from its final regular season win against North Dakota State.
The Golden Eagles are looking for a big time conference performance from junior forward Faith Ihim. Ihim has become the team’s most consistent scorer and is still the team’s best perimeter defender. She goes into this year’s Summit League Tournament averaging 13.1 points per game to go along with nearly eight rebounds.
The return of a healthy Lakota Beatty to Cussen’s lineup could be a factor in the team’s scoring ability in the tournament. Beatty has been the team’s best perimeter scorer shooting 44 percent from three-point range.
“We’ve had to be so locked down in progressive basketball during ‘the bad weeks,’ that’s been the huge focus of last week and this week’s practice. We are trying to be in an attack mode after any defensive stop,” said Cussen, “Faith, Kaylan and Lakota are better [offensively] when we are speedy between the free-throw lines [in transition].”
The “bad weeks” Cussen refers to are the times throughout this season where the team had up to six players injured forcing the team to have grind out games and be efficient on offense. She hopes the tournament opens up the team’s offense more.
“The message is about us this week. Its not about the first round opponent or looking at a three game window. We’ve got one game that’s all we are guaranteed,” said Cussen. “Our focus is just on what we do, and polishing it back to the point where we felt like we were the strongest throughout this season.”
The 2017 Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship begins for ORU Sunday, March 5 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They will face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at 2:30 p.m.