The women’s basketball team failed to qualify for the Summit League Tournament last season, but head coach Maren Walseth said that won’t deter her squad this winter. The Bison are ready to make their comeback.
With the return of Oral Roberts to the Summit League two years ago, only the top eight of the nine teams in the conference qualify for the end of the year tournament. During Maren Walseth’s first year at NDSU, the Bison finished sixth and comfortably made the league tournament with a 7-9 conference record. Last year, the Bison were less fortunate. They only won two league games and stayed in Fargo during the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“It was an insult to not be a part of the Summit League Tournament last year,” Walseth said. “They took that very personally and so that’s part of the motivation and part of the driving force, but also, I hold them to a high standard in doing the very best we can in situations that we are in. They have soaked that up.”
The Bison will be put to the test early in the nonconference portion of the schedule. They will play the Atlantic 10’s UMass followed by Big East’s Providence to start the road schedule. They will play their second home game of the season with Pac-12 opponent Colorado coming to the SCHEELS Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex just before Thanksgiving.
Junior Taylor Thunstedt will be on the radar of opposing coaches all season long. The point guard was named an honorable mention All-Summit League last year and was marked as a preseason All-Summit League team member this fall.
“I really enjoy her on and off the court,” Walseth said. “She sees herself as a point guard and somebody who wants to lead her team on and off the court, and for those reasons, her teammates really respect her and voted her as a junior captain this year.”
Thunstedt played in all but one game during her freshman season in 2014-15. She was named to the Summit League All-Newcomer Team and averaged 8.6 points per contest. She started every game last year during her sophomore campaign and raised her average to 17 points per game. She became a lethal threat behind the arc, making 82 three-pointers.
Thunstedt had shoulder surgery this offseason, but Walseth said she’s back to 100 percent.
“We were able to do a lot of film work with her and show her other ways, and other opportunities to be a playmaker for herself and for her teammates,” Walseth said, seeing the injury as an opportunity to get better. “The thing I love about her the most is that dog, the grit, and the hustle attitude that she has. She’s a competitor through and through, and she’ll do whatever it takes for us to be successful.”