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Brenden Welper | NCAA.com | January 29, 2021

3 must-watch games in DII women's basketball this weekend

Fort Hays State Athletics Fort Hays State women's basketball Fort Hays State dealt No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney its first loss of the season on Thursday. The Tigers have a chance to sweep the season series on Saturday.

This week's must-see games in DII women's college basketball all feature a ranked team facing an unranked challenger. Here are the three that you won't want to miss:

Records and statistics are through Jan. 28. 

Truman State (10-2) vs. No. 11 Southern Indiana (10-1) | 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30

The Screaming Eagles took the first meeting against Truman State this season, 83-78, back on Jan. 3. That victory began Southern Indiana's five-game winning streak. But the Bulldogs haven't lost since, and are winners of six in a row. These are the only 10-win teams in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. You don't need anymore buildup than that.

In the first game between these two, Truman State had two players finish with more than 20 points. Hannah Belanger posted a game-high 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting, including 6-of-15 from deep, while Katey Klucking scored 22 on 7-of-11 shooting. Klucking also went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.

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Both are high-volume shooters, and, along with Katie Jaseckas, will likely shoulder the offensive burden in Saturday's contest. But it still wasn't enough to pull out a win on Jan. 3. The Bulldogs will need contributions elsewhere if they're going to split the season series.

Southern Indiana was led by Ashlyn Brown's 17 points and five rebounds. While Brown only averages 20.4 minutes per game, she was one of four Screaming Eagles who finished in double figures that day. Look for Emma DeHart (15.3 points per game) and Hannah Haithcock (11.9 points per game) to be the focal points on offense. 

No. 1 Drury (9-0) vs. Maryville (MO) (7-7) | 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30

Top-ranked Drury played its first game in more than three weeks Thursday, and defeated Missouri S&T 85-66. If the Panthers felt any rust from the long pause, it certainly didn't show. They led 23-13 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back. 

Up next to try and stop the Drury machine is Maryville (MO). The Saints have two scorers averaging just over 18 points per game. Antoinette Mussorici is averaging a team-high 18.9 points on 40.3 percent shooting, while Jayda Jansen is at 18.3 on an even 45 percent shooting. Together, they make up one of the more dangerous backcourt tandems in the GLVC.

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The duo will have its hands full with the Panthers' starting point guard. Paige Robinson is averaging 21.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. The junior is also shooting 47.4 percent from the floor. But Robinson isn't the only scoring threat on Drury.

There's forward Azia Lynch, an inside presence who's averaging 15.2 points per game on a team-high 57.4 percent shooting. Reserve guard Kelsey Winfrey is scoring 9.6 points in just 19.5 minutes of action, while also knocking down 36.8 percent of her 3-pointers. Seven Panthers are currently scoring at least 7.1 points per game.

That kind of versatility is one of the main reasons why Drury has been largely unchallenged this season.

No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney (12-1) vs. Fort Hays State (10-2) | 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30

Fort Hays State handed No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney its first loss of the season on Thursday, 61-49. The Tigers outscored the Lopers 17-12 in the final period to pull off the upset. Fortunately for Nebraska-Kearney, and DII hoops fans, these teams will meet once again on Saturday.

There's no doubt that the fourth-ranked Lopers will make some adjustments. Those 61 points were the most they've given up all season. Before Thursday's defeat, Nebraska-Kearney was holding opponents to 48.3 points per game. The Lopers must limit Jaden Hobbs and Whitney Randall, as the Tigers' guards combined for 29 points on 11-of-25 shooting.

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Offensively, it's unlikely that Nerbraska-Kearney will struggle as much as it did Thursday. For the first time this season, not a single player finished in double figures. Even if that happens again, the Lopers' defense is strong enough to keep the game within reach.

A second-straight win over the No. 4 team would be monumental for the Tigers. That would likely propel them into the top 25. And it would give Fort Hays State the regular-season tiebreaker over its conference rival.

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