MidcoSN is back in Bismarck, getting set to bring you Friday’s NSIC twin bill between Concordia-St. Paul and the University of Mary. Game times are 6 and 8 p.m., and both could have conference tournament implications.
With two weeks until tournament time, there’s still plenty to be decided on the women’s side. Concordia needs to win out, and get some help, in order to qualify for the postseason, while U-Mary is trying to secure a first-round home game.
CU trails St. Cloud State by three games for the eighth and final spot in the tournament. Tiebreakers are still being ironed out, but it’s not looking good for the Golden Bears. Their not-so-magic number is one, meaning they’ll be officially eliminated from postseason contention with any loss or Huskies win in the final three games.
U-Mary, on the other hand, could finish anywhere from third to eighth, depending on how things play out. The Marauders can clinch a first-round home game with two wins this weekend and a loss from either Minnesota Duluth or Minnesota State.
Fred Fridley’s team will be hoping for a very different outcome this time around, after dropping a 78-59 decision to the Golden Bears back on Dec. 3. The Marauders shot just 23 percent from the floor in that one, including a paltry 5-28 in the second half. They also turned it over 18 times, leading to 22 points for CU.
Keep your eyes on the matchup between a pair of standout post players.
Anika Whiting (Fr., Ashland, Wisc.) has had a stellar first season at CU, leading the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg). She’ll be going head-to-head with the Marauders’ Linda Murray (Jr., Fresno, Calif.). Murray is coming off a huge weekend, which saw her average 23 points and 9.5 rebounds in losses at Wayne State and Augustana.
The conference race got a little more interesting on the men’s side this week, in light of sanctions against league-leading Winona State. The Warriors have been penalized for using an ineligible player, though that doesn’t change for these two teams. U-Mary has a chance to play the spoiler role, as Concordia continue to fight for that eighth and final spot in the conference tournament.
Entering the weekend, Concordia trails eighth place Northern State by one game. That could add a little extra zest to Saturday’s (Feb. 18) showdown in Aberdeen. But, before they can worry about that, they’ll need to avenge an earlier loss to the Marauders. This team has struggled on the road, however, winning just two of ten games away from home.
The good news for Concordia is that the McDowell Activity Center isn’t exactly the most intimidating place to play, at least not this year. U-Mary is 1-9 in ten games there this season. Overall, the Marauders are 5-14 in conference play and have been all but eliminated from the postseason conversation. A loss Friday would make that official.
Three of the top nine scorers in the NSIC will be on display in this one.
The Golden Bears have quite the one-two punch in twin brothers, Peter and Kenny Olafeso (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.). Both players average over 15 points and five rebounds for CU, though Kenny is the more efficient of the two. He’s connected on 63 percent of his shots (137-217 FG), which is good enough for eighth in Division II.
Another guy who has no trouble filling it up is U-Mary’s Damon Smith (Sr., Milwaukee, Wisc.). He’s averaging about 16 points and seven rebounds for the Marauders. He’s gone for 20 or more nine times, and has reached double figures in U-Mary’s last eight games.
Consider yourself previewed. Hope to see you tonight.