Orediggers blast away CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves 94-58

Mines women's team back on a roll after winter break

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/7/23

The Orediggers got their groove back after winter break with a 94-58 home win over the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves on Jan. 6.

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Orediggers blast away CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves 94-58

Mines women's team back on a roll after winter break

Posted

While the Colorado School of Mines women’s basketball team started off 2023 with a 75-62 win at Colorado Christian, “It wasn’t really us,” as forward Megan Van de Graaf described.

But, the Orediggers got their groove back after winter break with a 94-58 home win over the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves on Jan. 6.

“We’re still trying to get the rust off from break,” Coach Brittany Simpson said. “This week, we were back in our routine, which helped a lot. It looked a lot more like us tonight.”

The Orediggers had another strong showing the next night against New Mexico Highlands, winning 79-48. The team's now 13-1 overall and 9-0 in conference play.

Against CSU-Pueblo on Jan. 6, Mines had a stellar performance on both ends of the court.

Van de Graaf led the team with 19 points and 11 rebounds, recording the second double-double of her career.

The Orediggers shot 37% on three-pointers and 50% overall, making Jan. 6 the team’s best offensive performance thus far in 2022-23.

Mines also showcased its power down low, dominating both the lane and the glass. The team had 42 points in the paint, 18 offensive rebounds and 22 second-chance points.

On defense, the Orediggers held the Thunderwolves to 37% shooting and forced 21 turnovers. Seventeen of those were steals, with freshman guard Sammy Van Sickle leading the team with five.

That translated to 27 points off turnovers, and 18 fast-break points for the team’s transition offense.

“Defense really fuels our offense,” Van de Graaf said. “That’s when we have the most fun — when we’re getting steals or blocks.”

The Orediggers, now on an 11-game win streak, were No. 1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings going into their Jan. 13 game at Regis.

Center Shelby Nichols said the win over the Thunderwolves was a great way to get rolling for the second half of the season. The fourth-year senior had a career-high 14 points with nine rebounds, three assists and two steals on Jan. 6.

“Coming off of break, it’s hard to come back and pick up where you left off, and that’s definitely what we wanted to do,” Nichols said. “ … I’m looking forward to finishing out (the season) just as strong as we started.”

On the road again

After retooling at home, it’s time for the Orediggers to take their show on the road.

The team will have four consecutive away games, starting Jan. 13 at Regis.

 “We play well at home, but we need to make sure we translate that … to any floor,” Nichols said.

The Orediggers won’t be back at home until the end of the month, when it hosts Fort Lewis Jan. 27 and Adams State Jan. 28. The latter, Simpson said, will be a big home game and hoped to see a packed house that night.

While Mines is out to three-peat as regular-season conference champions, Simpson said she wants the Orediggers to “play the long game” by focusing on whatever’s in front of them.

“Don’t worry about what’s in front of us (or) what’s behind us,” she continued. “Just try and get better every day we’re together. That’s the message we need to stay focused on.”

All the pieces are there, though, for Mines to bring home another trophy and make waves in the postseason, as Nichols described. With Ashley Steffeck, Josephine Howery and Sammy Van Sickle on defense, and with Van de Graaf and other powerhouses on offense, Mines is a well-rounded team.

“We have someone to fill every role,” Nichols continued. “ … When everyone does their job, we can’t really be stopped.”

Along with being a “hustle team” — in Nichols’ words — Mines has six seniors leading the charge.

Three have another year of eligibility and will be back in 2023-24. The other three are graduate students, enjoying their final year in Mines jerseys.

Van de Graaf graduated with her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering last spring and is now doing a master’s degree in engineering and technology management. She was excited about finishing out her final season, saying, “I’m hoping to go out with a bang, playing with the team I love.”

colorado, school, mines, orediggers, women's, basketball, csu, pueblo, thunderwolves

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