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With 'scrappy' plays, Morgan Edelman powers Dakota Wesleyan's toughness on the basketball court

Jan. 27—MITCHELL — Morgan Edelman said she's always played this way.

From her time at Menno High School to her role as a starting guard at Dakota Wesleyan, she's always been a hard-working player, one who is resourceful, even if she's one of the shortest players on the court.

Edelman's college rebounding statistics at DWU show that to be true, as well.

The 5-foot-7 junior guard currently ranks No. 2 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference in total rebounds with 138 and is fourth-best on a per-game basis with 7.3 rebounds, a figure that also leads the Tigers.

"I've kind of always been that player that's scrappy and aggressive and getting after it. That's why I sometimes end up in foul trouble," said Edelman with a laugh. "Those plays boost our team, and you see some of our other players making plays and it just feeds off itself."

She has had five games with double-digit rebounds this season, including 11 and 10 in the past two games in wins over Mount Marty and Northwestern. Both were double-doubles, each paired with 13-point efforts. Her season-best was 13 rebounds during DWU's Florida trip in December.

"She's always had a nose for the ball," DWU coach Jason Christensen said. "Even as a freshman and sophomore, her awareness and knowing where the ball is going to be, how to beat her opponent for the ball, she's always been good at that. ... How many people in the league can say that their point guard is leading them in rebounding night in and night out? It tells you what kind of player she is, and she's always flying around the floor."

Edelman was that type of player at Menno, where she had 2,066 points and 812 rebounds in her career, including nearly seven rebounds per game as a senior.

In college, she will play her 85th game as a Tiger on Sunday when DWU hosts Midland at the Corn Palace. Lennox native Isabel Ihnen has played 110 games and is the only active player with more court time in a DWU uniform. Edelman said the experience of playing with DWU over the years has been beneficial in helping lift her teammates.

"I think even if we're not shooting the ball well, this team is going to stay after it," Edelman said. "If we hit some adversity, we're not going give up, and I think it makes this group unique. We have a really tough team, and I think that shows up when we're on the court."

Edelman also helps make the Tigers offense go, too. She ranks fifth in the conference in assists with 56 and in the top-12 in assist-to-turnover ratio.

"I think our kids feed off of Morgan," Christensen said. "The games where we struggle, Morgan is usually on the bench in foul trouble, and the games where we're having success, she's a major part of it. She's like that old adage: she's the straw that stirs the drink for us."

Edelman said she relishes the chance to play less than an hour from her hometown. She said every game is usually an opportunity to say hello to friends or family who are on hand to watch her and the Tigers.

"There's usually someone new here that I get to talk to after the game or go out for dinner after the game, so that's a pretty special thing I enjoy about playing at DWU," she said.

DWU graduated two of its top three rebounders from last year with the graduation of Jada Campbell and Matti Reiner, leaving Edelman to lead a new group of Tigers into this season. Last season, DWU had 23 wins and made the NAIA tournament, and this group looks capable of reaching the national postseason once again.

"We're not the biggest team out there, but we play with effort and I think that can give us a chance against anyone we play," she said.