news 4 days ago

College women's basketball: Bulldogs hope to slay Dragons in NCAA opener

Duluth News Tribune, Minn. — Jon Nowacki Duluth News Tribune, Minn.

March 15-- Mar. 15--The Minnesota Duluth women's basketball team has won six straight, capped by the Bulldogs' first NSIC tournament title since 2004, so how were they rewarded?

A rematch with NSIC tournament runner-up Minnesota State-Moorhead in the NCAA Division II tournament.

The teams will meet for a fourth time this season when the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (23-6) take on the fifth-seeded Dragons (26-6) in the Central Region tournament opener at 7:30 p.m. today at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays, Kan. Top-seeded Fort Hays State is the host.

UMD and Moorhead -- the NSIC regular-season champion -- split during the regular season, each winning at home, while the Bulldogs edged the Dragons 52-48 for the NSIC tournament title March 5 in Sioux Falls, S.D. This isn't the first time UMD has played an opponent four times in a season before, with the last being in 2003-04, when the Bulldogs took on Concordia-St. Paul four times, losing the finale in the NCAA tournament.

UMD's 23 wins are its most since a 25-win season in 2002-03 and mark quite a turnaround for a program that went 7-19 in coach Mandy Pearson's first season in 2015-16.

Point guard Sammy Kozlowski, sharp shooter guard/forward Emma Boehm and forward Josie Buckley are the Bulldogs' three seniors.

Kozlowski is a heady point guard and defensive stalwart, leading the Bulldogs in scoring (12.1 points per game), assists (4.0) and steals (2.6).

Boehm, of Eden Prairie, Minn., is fourth on the team in scoring at 8.7 ppg and led the NSIC in 3-point shooting. She has connected on 35 of 70 from beyond the arc, a stellar 50 percent.

The oft-smiling Buckley, of Rice Lake, Wis., only averages 7.4 minutes per game but seems to give the Bulldogs a boost every time she's in there.

"There's nothing better than when Josie goes off and makes a couple buckets because she gives everybody so much energy that it's fun to see them return the favor," Pearson said. "She's just so genuinely nice. I've never seen a kid compete every day at practice the way she does. It doesn't matter if she's playing one minute or whatever, every single day at practice she brings it. During those times where it's hard for everyone else to do it, she's still being really energetic. Everyone really likes her as a person and as a teammate."

COLLEGE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

No. 4 UMD (23-6) VS. NO. 5 MINNESOTA STATE-MOORHEAD (26-6)

What: NCAA Division II Central Region quarterfinal

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Gross Memorial Coliseum, Hays, Kan.

Fast fact: This is UMD's 11th NCAA tournament appearance and first in seven years

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