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Western Illinois pulls away in second half to defeat Bison women

FARGO—When push came to shove Thursday night at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex, it was Western Illinois that did the pushing and shoving. And scoring, too.

The Leathernecks broke open a tight Summit League women's basketball game at the end of the third quarter and went on to take a 77-60 victory over North Dakota State. It clinched the third seed in the Summit tournament for Western, which improved to 9-4 in the league and 20-8 overall.

The Bison, meanwhile, gave glimpses in the first half of being able to beat somebody else not named Fort Wayne. They'll take on Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday at the Scheels Center with the winner getting the sixth seed for the Summit tourney, with that significance being able to avoid South Dakota or South Dakota State in the first round.

Not that playing Western Illinois would be much easier. The Leathernecks are a veteran team who can score in a hurry.

In the first half, so could Bison freshman Michelle Gaislerova, who had 16 of her 21 points in that span. She came into the game with either one or two 3-point field goals made in each of her last 12 games and crushed that trend in the first half hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, a 20 minutes where the Bison played the Leathernecks even-up.

"We did a great job in the first half battling them," Gaislerova said. "We have to do that for 40 minutes."

WIU took a 32-31 lead into the locker room, but it was difficult to tell which team was 19-8 coming in and which one was 9-17. That started to change as the third quarter wore on.

"We saw a tale of two halves from the Bison tonight," said NDSU head coach Maren Walseth. "The first half was a disciplined and confident group. The third quarter ... you saw a more tentative Bison group on the offensive end and a less urgent group on the defensive end."

WIU senior Morgan Blumer took the 3-point baton from Gaislerova, hitting back-to-back treys that gave the Leathernecks a 50-42 advantage. Eleven straight by WIU at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter ended it, with the Bison having few answers for the quickness of WIU guard Emily Clemens. She had 24 points and dominated the game from a tempo standpoint.

"They are a very fast team," said Bison forward Reilly Jacobson. "Props to them for getting up and down in transition and if they get an open 3, that's when they can get on their run."

Props to Jacobson for not giving up all night. She finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds and led the team with 4 assists.

"My teammates sharing my energy helps a lot," Jacobson said. "When they're confident, that gives me confidence."

WIU 16 16 27 18

NDSU 13 18 18 11

WESTERN (20-8, 9-4 Summit): Braun 5-7 0-0 10, Clemens 8-19 6-6 24, Blumer 5-10 0-0 13, Farrow 3-5 0-0 9, Higginbotham 4-18 2-2 11, Kaufmann 3-4 3-3 10, Gilmore 0-1 0-0 0, Merriman 0-0 0-0 0, Pryor 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-64 11-11 77.

NDSU (9-18, 2-11 Summit): Ogden 3-6 0-0 6, Nudell 0-2 2-2 2, R. Jacobson 8-22 3-3 19, S. Jacobson 2-15 0-0 5, Spencer 0-3 1-2 1, Thunstedt 2-6 0-0 6, Kvilvang 0-1 0-0 0, Gaislerova 8-13 0-0 21. Totals: 23-68 6-7 60.

Total fouls: WIU 12, NDSU 11. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: WIU 39 (Braun, Farrow 7); NDSU 42 (R. Jacobson 16). 3-point goals: WIU 10-26 (Braun 0-1, Clemens 2-6, Blumer 3-7, Higginbotham 1-7, Farrow 3-3, Kaufmann 1-2); NDSU 8-24 (Ogden 0-1, Nudell 0-1, S. Jacobson 1-7, Spencer 0-1, Thunstedt 2-5, Kvilvang 0-1, Gaislerova 5-8). Assists: WIU 18 (Clemens 7); NDSU 13 (R. Jacobson 4). Turnovers: WIU 9 (Clemens 4); NDSU 15 (Spencer 4). A-469.

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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