The Golden Eagles open up the season with a victory for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

WAYNE, Neb. – The University of Minnesota Crookston women’s basketball team saw their season come to a close in the NSIC Tournament last season at Rice Auditorium. Friday’s hoops tilt saw a much different result as they opened up the 2018-19 regular-season with a 71-59 win over University of Nebraska Kearney in the NSIC/MIAA Crossover in Wayne, Neb.

    The Golden Eagles open up the season with a victory for the first time since the 2015-16 season, in which they defeated University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras to open the season. That version of the Minnesota Crookston women’s basketball team went on to a school record 18 wins.

    The Golden Eagles open up the season with a 1-0 mark. Nebraska Kearney starts the season with a 0-1 record. The Lopers returned two starters and a key bench player off a team that went 21-7 and finished fifth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAA) with a 13-6 mark.

    Nebraska Kearney made a late charge for the game as they closed to within six points with 2:21 remaining. However, Isieoma Odor (R-Sr., F/C, Bloomington, Minn.) converted a crucial lay-up and Mary Burke (Fr., F, Eveleth, Minn.) hit a crucial three-point to stave off the Lopers down the stretch.

    Minnesota Crookston had a balanced effort paced by a pair of double-doubles on the night. Odor finished with 16 points and 10 boards on 5-of-10 from the field and 6-of-8 from the charity stripe. Abby Guidinger (So., G/F, Waukesha, Wis.) started the season the way she finished it as her play was also crucial down the stretch. Guidinger had a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds as she led the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard.

    Caitlin Michaelis (Sr., G, Marshfield, Wis.), who is a senior captain with Odor, had 11 points, three rebounds and four assists. She struggled from the field, but was on-fire from the stripe as she went 5-of-6. Kylie Post (Fr., G, Corcoran, Minn.) had a strong debut for Minnesota Crookston with 10 points and five rebounds.

    Burke came off the bench for six points, while Kylea Praska (Fr., G, Thief River Falls, Minn.) added five points. Paige Weakley (Jr., G/F, Kearney, Mo.) chipped in four points.

    The Golden Eagles played strong defense as they limited the Lopers to 0-of-11 from beyond the arc. Nebraska Kearney was a 36.1 percent three-point shooting team last season. The Lopers finished the game 24-of-66 from the field for 36.4 percent and 11-of-18 from the line for 61.1 percent.

    Minnesota Crookston shot 22-of-61 from the field for 36.1 percent. The Golden Eagles were 8-for-26 for 30.8 percent from beyond the three-point line. They finished 19-of-28 for 67.9 percent from the foul line.

    Stephanie McWilliams (Jr., G, Grand Forks, N.D.) played in her first game since suffering an injury Feb. 9, while Bren Fox (Fr., F/C, Norwood Young America, Minn.) made her Golden Eagle debut after missing the exhibition games.

    The Golden Eagles and Lopers were equal on the glass 43-43.

    Nebraska Kearney looked to freshman Shiloh McCool with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Brooke Carlson, another freshman for the Lopers, came off the bench for 14 points and six rebounds. Kelsey Sanger, who was the leading returner for Nebraska Kearney, had six points and six rebounds.

    The Lopers took a 6-4 lead early in the first quarter after a McCool basket. Minnesota Crookston responded with a triple by Michaelis and a basket from Post to move the advantage to 9-6. Nebraska Kearney came back to take the lead at 11-9 on a Carlson jumper. Minnesota Crookston responded with three-consecutive triples from Guidinger, Michaelis, and Weakley to widen the lead 18-11. Carlson interrupted the Golden Eagle run with a bucket to cut the deficit to 18-13. However, the Golden Eagles responded with a 5-0 run to end the quarter with a 23-13 advantage.

    Minnesota Crookston picked up where they left off in the first quarter as a 6-1 run ignited by three-pointers from Guidinger and Praska pushed their lead out to 29-14. The Golden Eagles moved their advantage out to 32-16 on a pair of Odor free throws.

    The Lopers fought back with an 8-0 run led by four points as they cut the deficit to 32-24. Post and Odor brought the Golden Eagles back with crucial baskets to increase their advantage to 36-24. A Carlson jumper brought Nebraska Kearney within 36-26 going into the half.

    Minnesota Crookston was slow to get started in the third quarter as their first field goal of the second half came at the 6:12 mark on an Odor bucket as the Golden Eagles led 39-30. The Lopers utilized buckets from Sanger and Carlson to cut the deficit to 39-34.

    The Golden Eagles responded with a 6-0 run concluded on a Post bucket to extend the lead to 45-34. Minnesota Crookston continued their strong end to the third quarter with a 5-2 run as the Golden Eagles went into the quarter break with a 50-36 lead.

    Nebraska Kearney opened the fourth quarter on a 3-0 run to cut the lead to 50-39. Minnesota Crookston halted the run with a Guidinger jumper. The Lopers came right back though with a 4-0 run as they took the lead down to 52-43 on a McCool basket. Post slowed down the run with a bucket to push the Golden Eagle lead out to 52-45. However, Nebraska Kearney did not stop there as a 6-0 run brought the Lopers within 54-49 on a McCool bucket. A pair of free throws from Guidinger and a Burke triple extended Minnesota Crookston’s advantage to 59-51. Sanger brought Nebraska Kearney back within six, but the Golden Eagles countered with an Odor basket and another Burke triple as Minnesota Crookston took a 64-53 lead with 1:03 remaining to terminate the run for the Lopers.

    Nebraska Kearney attempted to make a late comeback using McCool free throws and a Cierra Dvorak bucket to cut the lead down to 64-57. Minnesota Crookston iced the win going 7-of-8 from the charity stripe in the final minute as they took the game 71-59 to open the season with a win.

    Minnesota Crookston continues play in the NSIC/MIAA Crossover as they take on Northwest Missouri State University at 3:30 p.m. at Rice Auditorium in Wayne, Neb.