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Northern gets defensive in win over Mustangs

Northern State University’s Laurie Rogers, center, moves to the basket between Southwest Minnesota State University’s Abuk Akoi, left and Meleah Reinhart, right, during Friday night’s game at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 1/14/2022

Northern State clogged the lane, rotated out on shooters and left Southwest State on the outside looking in at Wachs Arena Friday night.

The Wolves held their foe to just 10 third-quarter points and walked away with a 74-64 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball victory.

“When we’re all together I think our defense fuels our offense and we played pretty good ‘D’ the whole game; everybody did,” said Northern coach Paula Krueger. “We made a couple of mistakes, but for the most part we really did a good job taking away the things that we wanted to take away.”

The Wolves got out on Southwest shooters and hounded the Mustangs into shooting 3-for-25 from beyond the three-point arch. When the visitors did venture into the lane, they were met with resistance in the form of Laurie Rogers and Kailee Oliverson.

“That helps us a ton when we can get out and guard the three-point line,” said Northern’s Lexi Roe. “Knowing we have that back up defensive line with Laurie and Kailee blocking shots like that gives us a big confidence in our defense.”

Rogers finished with five blocked shots and altered many others. She said the Wolves played good team defense.

“It was a lot of help the helper,” Rogers said. “We all know that I like to step over on drives, so just having the other guards know then that they need to step over and help me out for the drop down to the post, so a lot of team effort, communication, all-around.”

The Wolves were not only dominant in the paint on defense, they were proficient in the lane on offense, scoring more than half of their points close to the basket.

“We scored 42 points in the paint against somebody that’s got a 6-4 person that’s protecting the rim,” Krueger said. “Anytime you can do that, you’ve got an opportunity to win games.”

Rianna Fillipi led five players in double figures for Northern with 18 points. Rogers added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Oliverson contributed 15 points.

The Wolves had multiple reasons to celebrate Friday night, because the double-digit victory included Roe scoring her 1,000th career point.

The former Hamlin standout had her own cheering section that erupted when she reached the milestone with 2:41 left in the opening half.

“I did my best to just go out there and play, but definitely had it in the back of mind,” Roe said of scoring her 1,000th point. “I told myself when I came to Northern this has always been one of my goals, so it’s pretty surreal to get it. Just have to give all the glory to God ultimately. It was amazing to see everybody up there supporting me. That was pretty cool.”

Northern State University’s Lexi Roe, center, goes up with a shot between Southwest Minnesota State University’s Hannah Parsley, far left, Sadie Stelter, right and Madison Gehloff, back far right, during Friday night’s game at Wachs Arena. Roe scored on the play to reach the 1,000 point milestone. Photo by John Davis taken 1/14/2022

While Roe has been a big-time point producer for the Wolves, her contributions run far deeper than just scoring, according to Krueger.

“It’s more than points. Lexi was my first recruit here,” Krueger said. “You want to talk about a kid that can take a punch and keeping ticking, it’s Lex. If there’s anybody that I want to win for, it would be her.”

Rogers said that Roe is the leader of the team and sets the tone for the Wolves.

“She’s definitely our glue as a senior. Since a freshman she’s been a really big player for us both on and off the court,” Rogers said. “She’s really motivational, pulls us together and obviously a really talented athlete. We’re all really proud of her. She’s very deserving of this.”

Roe finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Haley Johnson added 10 points.

Abuk Akoi had 13 points for the Mustangs, and Meleah Reinhart and Sadie Stelter scored 12 apiece.

The Wolves, who face Sioux Falls at 6 this evening at Wach Arena, are now 8-7 overall and 5-5 in the NSIC. The squad has won back-to-back games by double digits as it heads into the back half of its schedule.

“I think every game we have something to prove, we have something to gain,” Roe said, “so we’re just starting to peak at the right time which is exactly what our goal was at the beginning of the year.”

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