UMC welcomes two in-state rivals as the Golden Eagles go for their first win.

The Scoop
    
    The University of Minnesota Crookston women’s basketball team will open up NSIC play this weekend as they take on St. Cloud State University Friday at 6 p.m. and University of Minnesota Duluth Saturday at 4 p.m. The Golden Eagles have a clean slate entering conference play as they look to show improvement after an 0-4 start to the season against four tough non-conference opponents.

Previewing the Golden Eagles
    
    The Minnesota Crookston women’s basketball team is looking to get on track as they have started the season with an 0-4 mark. The Golden Eagles have gotten strong overall production out of their starting five but continue to look to consistency from a bench that is averaging just 10.1 points per game. The starting five for the Golden Eagles come in tallying 48.4 points per game.   

    The Golden Eagles look to post Isieoma Odor to lead the way. An All-Cesar Odio Thanksgiving Class pick from last week, she comes in averaging 14.8 points and 9 rebounds per game. Senior Emily Gruber has also been strong in the post with 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. At guard, Micaela Noga is looking for consistency beyond the arc, but she comes in notching 12.5 points per game. Caitlin Michaelis averaged 9.5 points per game, while Stephanie McWilliams is notching 5.5 points per contest.    

    Minnesota Crookston comes in shooting just 23.0 percent from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles are focused on being stronger from distance as it has been a defining trait of past Minnesota Crookston teams and something they have struggled with this season. The Golden Eagles are shooting 39 percent from the field and 75.4 percent from the charity stripe. They enter the weekend being out-rebounded by the tune of 38.3 to 33. Minnesota Crookston also has to improve in the turnover category, where they are giving up 12.7 turnovers a game coming into Friday.
 
Previewing the Huskies
    
    St. Cloud State comes in with a 3-1 mark on the season. The Huskies are more guard-oriented then they traditionally have been. St. Cloud State is shooting is shooting 39.3 percent from beyond the arc. Andrea Thomas leads the way with 12.8 points per game, while Amanda Christianson is tallying 11 points and 5 rebounds per game.   

    The Huskies come in out-scoring their foes 71.8 to 48.5 on the season as their defense has been limiting to their opponents. Off of the bench, freshman Tori Wortz has been crucial with her 11.8 points per game and 42.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. In the post, Brianna Johnson leads the way with 4.5 points and 3.3 boards.    

    St. Cloud State shoots 44.6 percent from the field and 69.1 percent from the charity stripe. They have held their foes to just 17.2 percent from behind the three-point line.

Previewing the Bulldogs
    
    Minnesota Duluth enters the weekend at 2-1. They look to Sammy Kozwloski’s 14 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. In the post, newcomer Sarah Grow has been strong with 12.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Emma Boehm comes in tallying 10 points per game.    

    The Bulldogs are in their third season under Mandy Pearson. They are shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. Minnesota Duluth has struggled at the foul line as they are shooting just 63.3 percent. The Bulldogs have controlled the glass this season 52.3 to 36.7. Grow has paced the team with 10.7 boards per game, while Katie Stark is grabbing 6.0 rebounds per contest.

Tale of Two Foes
     
    The Golden Eagles have had recent success against St. Cloud State but have historically always had problems against Minnesota Duluth. Minnesota Crookston has put up a 6-8 mark in the last eight seasons against the Huskies including taking three of the last six from St. Cloud State. On the flip side, the Golden Eagles have only won one game against the Bulldogs in the last 16 meetings. That win came Jan. 10, 2016 with a 74-60 win at Lysaker Gymnasium over Minnesota Duluth. The Golden Eagles only have three wins in their NSIC history over the Bulldogs.

Minnesota Crookston
Projected Starters

So. PG 4 Stephanie McWilliams, 5-8, Grand Forks, N.D. 5.5 PPG, 2.8 APG

Sr. SG 10 Micaela Noga, 5-7, Parkers Prairie, Minn. 12.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG

Jr. 3G 3 Caitlin Michaelis, 5-8, Marshfield, Wis. 9.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG

Sr. SF 22 Emily Gruber, 5-11, Monticello, Minn. 8.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG

R-Jr. PF 15 Isieoma Odor, 6-0, Bloomington, Minn. 14.8 PPG, 9 RPG

#5StoryLines

1. Can the Golden Eagles shoot the ball more consistently?

2. Can the five starters step up for the Golden Eagles this weekend?

3. Can the Golden Eagles contain UMD guard Sammy Kozlowski?

4. Can Minnesota Crookston contain St. Cloud State’ deep guard court?

5. Who can be a difference maker off of the bench for the Golden Eagles?

#GetItToThePost
    
    Minnesota Crookston redshirt junior forward Isieoma Odor has had a great start to her junior season. Odor is averaging a near double-double of 14.8 points and 9 rebounds. She was named to the All-Cesar Odio Thanskgiving Classic Team in Florida last weekend. It will be crucial to get her key touches against both St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth this weekend.

#HittingTheBoards
    
    Minnesota Crookston senior forward Emily Gruber will be a crucial player for the Golden Eagles this season. She is coming off a strong weekend in Florida as she tallied 11 points and 9 rebounds per game. Gruber has been great at coming down with the rebounds this season as she is notching 7.3 boards per game. She is coming off her best game of the season as she had 17 points and seven boards against Barry. Gruber shot 61.5 percent from the field against the Buccaneers. She will look to channel that performance heading into this weekend.

#Number3ForThree
    
    Minnesota Crookston junior Caitlin Michaelis has shown great improvement as a junior. She has been instrumental with her three-point shooting as she is hitting at a 46.2 percent clip on the season. Michaelis had a strong weekend in Florida as she averaged 11.5 points per game and was 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. She will look to continue to build on her performances as the Golden Eagles take on St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth this weekend.

#ThatNameSoundsFamiliar
    
    The last name Freund might look familiar to Golden Eagle fans. That is because Ashley Freund’s sister Rachel Freund just concluded a four-year career with the volleyball program. Ashley Freund has continued to show improvement off of the bench for the Golden Eagles. She is coming off four points and four rebounds against Barry. Freund will look to help with the consistency off of the bench for Minnesota Crookston moving forward.