WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Wenner aiding BSU’s needed bench efforts
BEMIDJI -- Molly Wenner’s opportunities as a Beaver have been limited so far. So when the Bemidji State women’s basketball team needed her last weekend, Wenner made the most of it.
“I just know that I have to bring the energy,” the sophomore guard said. “If I’m going in, the energy is probably down, so I just have to be the spark plug and get everyone together.”
Wenner’s breakout came against Minnesota State on Saturday. She doubled her career high with a 12-point showing, going for 24 minutes and trumping a career-high 13 set just a night before.
“She’s been practicing hard and practicing well. It’s just a kid that didn’t get as many opportunities as others,” BSU head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “After the Sioux Falls/Southwest games (on Jan. 31-Feb. 1), I just said, ‘Molly, you’re my first guard off the bench. So just be ready.’”
Wenner’s efforts didn’t end up in victory, however, as the Beavers still wrapped up the weekend with their seventh straight loss.
“I think everyone’s tired of us losing. We’re tired of losing,” DeVille said. “We need a new spark, and it was time to give another kid a shot.”
Still, Saturday was an important step for Wenner, who feels ready to contribute if her number continues to be called down the stretch.
“It feels great to finally get my chance and prove that I can really help this team,” she said. “… I just know I have to go in and be the spark plug. I saw the openings that I haven’t seen yet in any games prior. So I was just there to take my chance.”
Bemidji State’s starting lineup has been largely untouched all season, accounting for 73.4 percent of the team’s points. Add in freshman center Rachael Heittola, who’s often first off the bench, and the six produce all but 11.8 percent of the scoring.
Understandably, DeVille said she needs more out of her reserves.
“It’d be great to have some consistent spark, some consistent scoring off the bench. We just haven’t had that,” DeVille said. “… But we have to have somebody to come off the bench, put up some numbers for us and be (someone we) trust defensively. We’re definitely looking for that.”
The next opportunity for the bench to prove its worth also comes with an added chance for redemption. BSU (7-15, 4-14 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) has rematches against U-Mary and Minot State after disappointing January losses against them -- in which the Beavers fumbled away a 19-point lead in one and just never had it against a winless conference team in the other.
“It’s definitely a redemption (opportunity), both games,” Wenner said. “We were up by a lot against U-Mary, and we should have continued that throughout the second half. We just let them come back in. Our posts are ready to go hard in there, and then our shooters are ready for the kickouts this week. We’re hoping to make it a full game.”
The weekend begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, against the Marauders (17-10, 11-7 NSIC) in Bismarck, N.D., and concludes at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, against MiSU (6-16, 3-15 NSIC) in Minot, N.D.
With four games remaining in the regular season, Bemidji State holds a one-game edge on Minot State and Minnesota Crookston for sixth place in the North Division. While a home playoff game is no longer in the picture, a more favorable postseason matchup awaits whoever can earn it.
“We’ve tried everything, it seems like,” DeVille said. “… Now it’s, ‘Hey, we’ve got to grow up. We’ve got to start finishing games and playing 40 minutes of a whole basketball game.’”