Fifth-year head coach Mandy Pearson has the program trending in the right direction. The Bulldogs have displayed definite signs of a program steadily rising the ranks. UMD doubled their win total from Pearson’s first season at the helm and last season was another rewarding step as the Bulldogs finished 23-7 overall and 18-4 in league action, both program best season.
Already in four seasons, Pearson has evolved a trio of players to all-conference heights in forward Taylor Meyer, Junior forward Sarah Grow and guard Sammy Kozlowski. Pearson’s ingenuity has UMD boast one of the better defensive and ball control units in the nation. The Bulldogs were tops in all of Division II in turnovers per game and in the top-60 for points allowed per game in 2017-18. In 2018-19, UMD was No. 11 in points allowed per game, and No. 2 in fewest turnovers in all of Division II.
UMD officially announced in August 2015 the selection of former Saint Mary's University head coach Mandy Pearson to lead the next generation of UMD Bulldog women's basketball.
"I'm really excited to be joining the UMD family and the Bulldog athletic department," Coach Pearson said. "I've been really pleased with the administration during this process and how everyone has treated me so far. The people have been awesome, and I'm ready to embark on this journey and bring championships back to the University of Minnesota Duluth."
Pearson proved her ability to turn a program around while leading the NCAA Division III Cardinals since the 2007 season, providing stability to a program that posted a 7-18 record during the 2006-07 season and needed its third coach in as many seasons before she stepped into the role. Saint Mary's quickly moved up the ranks in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference under her guidance, securing its first playoff bid since 2005 during the 2011-12 campaign. A year later, the Cardinals posted a 22-5 record, second-best in program history, advanced to the MIAC Tournament semifinals, and earned a victory over UMD's Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rival Winona State University. Pearson was named the MIAC Coach of the Year for the first time in 2012-13, repeating that feat a year later, and also earned the SMU Staff Recogntion Award following that season.
Her last two years with the Cardinals, Pearson's squads posted a 42-13 combined record including a 24-4 mark--best in program history--in 2013-14. The team found itself ranked in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association/USA Today Sports NCAA III Top 25 Coaches' Poll and d3hoops.com polls for the first time ever, as high as no. 12 in 2013-14 and in the top-25 from d3hoops.com in 2014-15. In her nine seasons as the SMU bench boss, Pearson produced one d3hoops.com All-American selection in Courtney Euerle (an honorable mention in 2013-14), who also earned MIAC Player of the Year honors and was the only player from the entire conference to earn All-America recognition that season. Pearson also produced two All-NCAA III West Region Team members, nine All-MIAC award selections, seven all-conference honorable mentions, four All-MIAC Defensive Team selections, and four MIAC All-First Year Team picks.
Before joining Saint Mary's, Pearson served as an assistant with NCAA III Hamline University during the 2005-07 seasons after wrapping up a four-year playing career at another MIAC school, Concordia College of Moorhead. Pearson earned three All-MIAC selections during her playing career and was named a First Team All-American during her senior season in 2004-05. She was the first Cobber to achieve 1,000 points and 500 assists in her career. She also played softball for Concordia-Moorhead, earning All-MIAC citation on the diamond as well in her senior campaign. She earned a Bachelor of Artsin psychology from Concordia with minors in sociology, health and coaching. While coaching at Saint Mary's, she earned her Master of Arts degree in human development in 2013.
"Mandy Pearson is an exceptional addition to the UMD Athletics head coaching staff," said athletic director Josh Berlo. "She is a strong leader, has an incredible work ethic, and comes to UMD after an unprecedented run of success during her final three years at Saint Mary's. We are confident she will quickly elevate Bulldog women's basketball back to higher levels of competitive achievement."
Over the last six years, Pearson has spoken at several camps and clinics, including the Minnesota State High School League Association Clinic in 2011. She also polished her own coaching acumen at the Nike Championship Basketball Clinic, the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Northern State University, and Final Four Coaching Clinics.