On the right track

FSU women back atop GLIAC North standings with four straight wins

BIG RAPIDS — Things are starting to fall into place for the Ferris State women’s basketball team.

After a 2-3 start to the season that saw the Bulldogs lose star post player Christina Branch for the season to injury, FSU has won four straight, including wins over Findlay and Hillsdale in the past week.

FSU, which was the preseason pick to win the GLIAC North, is now tied atop the division standings at 5-1 with Michigan Tech and now sports a 6-3 overall record with the 2012 schedule in the rear view mirror.

First-year Ferris State coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate said the losses of Branch and a handful of other players to injury and attrition have been a “blessing in disguise” offering new players the opportunity to shine.

DRIVING: Ferris State guard Katie Mavis looks to take the ball to the basket against Ohio Dominican earlier this season. Mavis has emerged as a scoring threat for the Bulldogs, who have won four straight GLIAC contests. (Pioneer file photo)

“After being out five really good players, we have players that are doubling and tripling their playing time,” she said. “We’ve been very blessed to come together like we have. I wouldn’t trade this season for anything.

“This is a team that has won and knows how to win,” she added. “They’ve given up some leads at times, but they’re winners. They know what it takes to close out tight games.”

One of the major reasons for FSU’s success in recent weeks has been the emergence of players like Kylie Muntz and Katie Mavis in the Bulldogs’ backcourt.

Muntz, who has long provided a spark off the Bulldogs’ bench, has provided leadership in a starting role this season averaging eight points per game this season — third on the team.

Mavis, who redshirted during her freshman season in 2011-12, has emerged as a scoring

presence, particularly during the Bulldogs’

latest win streak. She is averaging 7.9 points per game this season.

Lamoreaux-Tate said both players have played a major role in taking some of the ball handling pressure off guard Sarah DeShone, who leads FSU, scoring 21.8 points per game.

“Kylie really helps with on-the-ball pressure and we’ve been struggling to find that third ball-handler,” she said. “Katie has stepped over the fence and has been able to handle that pressure. We were trying to connect the brain with the talent with (Mavis) and she’s starting to get it now.

“(Mavis) is like a bull with her strength and her speed, it’s all coming together,” she added. “With Kylie and Katie, it’s really opened things up for us, because Sarah (DeShone) can really score it.”

As the present roster gains more experience, Lamoreaux-Tate said it will continue to benefit DeShone even more.

The junior was this week’s GLIAC North Player of the Week, scoring 24 and 27 points in wins over Findlay and Hillsdale, respectively.

“I think she’s had success because all of the guards and other players have really stepped up,” Lamoreaux-Tate said. “(Early in the season) she had to do it all. Now, it’s hard for other teams to just guard her because other players are stepping up.”

With plenty of time before the Bulldogs’ next contest on Jan. 3 against Malone, Lamoreaux-Tate anticipates a productive holiday break that will allow her and the FSU coaching staff some time to work on pressing issues.

“We’re going to be working a lot on the offense in terms of fluidity,” she said. “Because of the numbers we’ve had, practices have been a lot different. Now we’re shifting to the middle of the season and we’re hoping to work a lot on the offensive sets and we’re going to be working a lot with the post players, trying to get some more productivity there.”

FSU is in action at 8 p.m. on Jan. 3 against Malone at Jim Wink Arena.

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