WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Wolhowe emerges as one of nation’s top 3-point threats
BEMIDJI -- A year under her belt has done wonders for Claire Wolhowe.
“I have a lot more experience, coming from last year and the beginning of this year,” the Bemidji State women’s basketball sharpshooter said. “I’m gaining more confidence in myself and my shot. And having confidence from my teammates and my coaches also helps, too.”
Without hyperbole, Wolhowe is one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation. The sophomore from Staples has shot 48.6 percent from deep this season, up from 38.2 percent as a freshman. She ranks second in Division II and fourth in women’s hoops among all NCAA divisions.
“Shame on people who leave her open. That’s what she does,” BSU head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “Teams know that she’s a good 3-point shooter. … She’s smart about the selection of shots that she does take. I’d like her to hunt it more, but at the same time, it’s easier said than done.”
Wolhowe doesn’t shoot many 3-pointers -- just 4.4 per game. But the volume speaks mostly to her disciplined shot selection.
“I feel like I don’t do as well when I’m rushed,” Wolhowe said. “When I’m selective with it, I do shoot a higher percentage because I know it’s a good shot. Whereas if I’m rushed with it, I wouldn’t have as high of a percentage.”
It’s been a formula for a lot of success. Only Ashland’s Hallie Heidemann boasts a higher percentage (50.0) in Division II, but Wolhowe has made 12 of her past 14 attempts to rise in the rankings.
.@BSUBeaversWBB's Claire Wolhowe is shooting 48.6% from deep this season (51-105), ranking No. 2 in Division II and up to No. 4 among all DI, DII, and DIII players.— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) February 17, 2020
Wolhowe has made 12 of her last 14 threes, inching closer to Amy Lawson's single-season program record of 51.8%. pic.twitter.com/x8yeQIo6W1
“I’m honored, but I don’t really worry about that,” Wolhowe said of the leaderboard. “I just go out there and play. I know what my role is. I’m just trying to help the team out any way I can.”
She certainly played her part on Saturday, when the Beavers (8-16, 5-15 NSIC) dismantled Minot State 83-54 and snapped an eight-game losing streak behind a program-record 15 threes. Wolhowe had a perfect 3-for-3 mark, as did Coley Rezabek, and Gabby DuBois was also a perfect 2-for-2.
“We were ready for Minot,” DeVille said. “It’s a scary team when they have that high-post motion. Everything clicked, though. We were doing everything we’ve been preaching all year on the little things within our motion. And we obviously knocked down shots. It was a pretty fun night for us.”
The victory gave Bemidji State its most overall and conference wins in the five-year DeVille era, but more importantly, it got this team’s season back on track.
“We’ve had so many close games where we had it -- we were winning in the beginning -- and then in the second half, we just lose it,” Wolhowe said. “It was really encouraging. It just brought our confidence back up.”
But the relief will be short lived if BSU doesn’t bring it again this weekend. The Beavers welcome in St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth -- the top two teams in the Northern Sun.
“Hopefully we can build off of last weekend’s success,” DeVille said. “But both teams have gotten way better since the first time we’ve played them, as well. They’re very challenging teams. I think St. Cloud is one of the more efficient offensive teams when I’m watching film, and Duluth is by far the most efficient defensive team that we have in the league. It’ll be a difficult matchup both evenings.”
The Huskies (19-5, 16-4 NSIC) first visit the BSU Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and the Bulldogs (21-5, 18-2 NSIC) follow at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, for Senior Day.
If Wolhowe can get hot from deep, she’ll provide the Beavers with a much better chance to pull off a pair of upsets. But, as she noted, her successes aren’t hers alone.
“Obviously, when you make your first shot or your first couple, you get more confidence,” Wolhowe said. “But I think it just helps when your teammates also encourage you and (when) coaches have confidence in you.”