Jimmie basketball: DeMars named NAIA player of week

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University of Jamestown sophomore forward Hannah DeMars (2) was named the NAIA's player of the week in women's basketball on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Hannah DeMars said the Jimmies took a defensive mindset into last Wednesday's overtime victory at Doane University.

But in the process of trying to help the team limit offensive touches for the Tigers' 6-foot senior Haylee Heits, DeMars scored the second most single-game points in the history of University of Jamestown women's basketball.

"No, that really wasn't the goal," laughed DeMars, who scored 39 inside Doane's Haddix Center in Crete, Nebraska. "It just kinda happened."

Jamestown's sophomore forward was the best player in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics last week. DeMars put up 61 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists in games at Doane and Hastings College and was named the NAIA's women's basketball player of the week.

A year ago, the achievement would've only represented NAIA Division II women's basketball, but the NAIA is now well into its first season operating just single divisions of both men's and women's hoops.


"I can't describe how committed she is to being great," UJ women's basketball coach Thad Sankey said of DeMars. "She said, 'Last year I thought I was working hard, and then I realized I have to take it up a whole other level.'

"That's what she told me and she absolutely has done that."

UJ Hannah Demars one 111120.jpg
University of Jamestown sophomore forward Hannah DeMars (2) was named the NAIA's player of the week in women's basketball on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. John M. Steiner / The Sun

DeMars scored eight of her 39 points -- which is currently tied for the NAIA game-high this season -- against the Tigers in overtime, converting 6 of 8 at the foul line and lifting the Jimmies to a 90-81 victory. She also matched a career-high with 12 rebounds and dished out six assists.

At Hastings on Nov. 23, DeMars doled out 22 points, 12 boards and four assists in a 70-68 loss to the Broncos, converting 9 of 14 shots from the field.

DeMars took 30 shots at Doane, but connected on 10 of 14 all told at the foul stripe and has largely been a model of offensive efficiency through five games. The 5-11 athlete from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is shooting 57% from the field and is averaging 22.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per night.

DeMars averaged 9.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 28 games as a freshman, and she's currently shooting nearly 22 percentage points higher than last season (35.2%). Her NAIA player of the week accolades on Tuesday followed being named player of the week in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.


"Every player that has the shot volume she does will look at every game and say maybe one or two were a low-percentage shot, but she's had such high efficiency on her shooting this year," Sankey said. "She's getting to her spots, she's getting her feet set.

"She just believes she can make them. A lot of the time, she can."

Sankey said DeMars' commitment to sharpening herself both physically and mentally in the offseason is the central force behind her ascension on the court. DeMars has also had to battle through sickness this fall, which included missing UJ's victory over Northwestern College last month due to strep throat.

"She takes care of herself really well, and her finishes around the rim -- her ability to stop in the midrange and shoot it -- those are physical improvements just as much as decision-making, too," Sankey said.

DeMars said she's maybe a little surprised by her strong start, but also acknowledged the fair amount of effort that went into preparing herself to take on a much larger role for the Jimmies this winter.

Countless hours that have garnered national attention.

"I try not to think that I have to go out and score a bunch, because if I think that I'm gonna get in my head," DeMars said. "I just kinda go in and think, 'Well, what can I do to help my team out?' I have really good teammates that give me the ball and help me achieve these goals."

The Jimmies are 4-2 overall and 2-2 in Great Plains Athletic Conference play. Jamestown is scheduled to play an exhibition game today (Dec. 2) at Presentation College (S.D.) before returning to conference action Saturday (Dec. 5) at Mount Marty.


Walters earns GPAC honors

University of Jamestown's Mason Walters earned men's basketball player-of-the-week honors in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, earning the distinction for the second time in three weeks.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore from Jamestown recorded a pair of double-doubles in helping UJ defeat both Hastings College and Doane University. Walters scored 13 points and grabbed 20 rebounds -- one board away from the all-time UJ record -- at Hastings, and added 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots at Doane in Crete, Nebraska. Walters leads the NAIA with seven double-doubles and is averaging 24.3 points and 13.5 rebounds.

The Jimmies (6-2, 3-1 GPAC) defeated Hastings 77-68 and Doane 79-64. UJ travels to South Dakota this week to play Presentation College today and Mount Marty on Saturday.

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University of Jamestown's Mason Walters (33) moves to the bucket for two points against Oak Hills Christian College's Doug Merida (10), Jess Nwalor (24) and Devin Session (32) at Newman Arena on Friday, Oct. 23., 2020. Michael Savaloja / The Sun

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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