Through five games, the University of Mary's men's basketball team has added scoring punching to its trademark stingy D.
Kicking off Northern Sun play today at Minot State against the 6-0 Beavers, Joe Kittell's Marauders are scoring nearly 76 points per game.
"It's really nice to see the ball go down," said Kittell, U-Mary head coach. "Last year early in the season we were an elite defensive team, but a struggling offensive team. Right now, I think we're a really good defensive team and an average to above average offensive team."
The Marauders (4-1) own a plus-13.6 scoring differential per game, and they're getting points from all over the place.
Matt Kreklow, one of the top big men in the league, is scoring 15 points per game on 62 percent shooting. Jaylan White, one of the premier guards in the NSIC, can score (14 ppg), dish (3.6 assists per game) and defend (3.6 steals per game) with anybody. Bismarck High's Connor Hellebust also is off to a strong start. The junior guard is averaging 14 points per game with a team-best 13 3-pointers.
Wyatt Carr, Cade Amundson, Josh Sipes and Trever Kaiser are accounting for between 7 and 5 points per contest.
It is by design.
"We've tried to model ourselves like the Northern State teams of the last few years where you have a lot of really good basketball players," Kittell said. "We have guys that can knock down shots. We have one of the best back-to-the-basket players (Kreklow) and we have guys that can get their own shot.
"We're really excited about this group."
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The Marauders left for Minot on Friday to beat the impending weather. At the dome, they'll face the Beavers' high scoring guard combo of Kyle Beisch (20 ppg) and Max Cody (16 ppg).
"Minot's a good team. They're well-coached," Kittell said. "I expect it to be a two-possession game where we're going to have to figure out a way down the stretch to get a big road win to start the conference season."
U-MARY PUTS STREAK ON LINE
The U-Mary women's basketball team puts its five-game winning streak on the line today against the Beavers.
During the run, the Marauders have beaten their opponents by an average of 37.2 points. The competition level takes a big step up today. Minot State is 3-1.
Cassie Askvig, reigning conference player of the year, has picked up where she left off last season. The senior from Minot ranks second in the NSIC in points per game (20). She’s also collecting 6.2 rebounds per contest.
She has plenty of help.
Sophomore Lexie Schneider has made large strides from her freshman campaign. The versatile 6-2 Schneider ranks No. 2 in the Northern Sun in rebounding (9.0 rpg). She’s also scoring 11.9 points per contest.
Coral Gillette, a junior from Bismarck, is scoring 11.1 points per game. Lauren Rotunda is coming in at 9.8 points and 6 boards per game. Point guard Macy Williams ranks third in the NSIC in assists per game (4.4).
Mariah Payne, a senior from Australia, is scoring 17.7 points per game to lead Minot State.
The women’s game starts at 3:30 p.m. with the men to follow.
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or email@example.com