FARGO - It’s almost equivalent to the baseball pitcher carrying a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Or the hockey goalie taking a shutout into the final minute of the game. When it comes to free throw shooting, North Dakota State women’s basketball player Michelle Gaislerova entered Sunday’s game against Oral Roberts on the verge of NCAA history.
Keep it quiet.
The junior was two free throws away from tying the Division I women’s basketball record for most consecutive free throws made. She hit 68 straight, which tied her for second place all-time and needed three to best the mark of 70 set by Lauren Prochaska from Bowling Green in 2011.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bison head coach Jory Collins said with a large hint of sarcasm. “I haven’t said one word to her about it.”
A chance to break it will have to wait for another day. ORU had the record of note on Sunday in guard Keni Jo Lippe, who set a Summit League record with 46 points to lead the Golden Eagles to an 80-76 overtime victory at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
It was the third OT loss of the season for the Bison, who broke through in their last home game with an overtime win over Denver. Moreover, Gaislerova had 12 points but did not attempt a free throw.
She remains a perfect 46 of 46 this season after finishing last season hitting her last 22 in a row.
She came in fifth overall in NCAA history just one behind another local player in Jamie Visness from Concordia College, who hit 69 in a row in 2002-03. The record is held by Monica Burns of Division II Wheeling Jesuit University (W. Va.) who made 118 straight in 2017-18.
“If you watch Michelle shoot she has an unorthodox shot that is very robotic,” Collins said. “But when she’s able to get set the way she practices, she makes it just about every time. So when she’s at the free throw line, all of her mechanics are lined up and she’s just like a machine.”
Free throws aside, NDSU had trouble finding somebody to guard Lippe, who had 24 of her team’s first-half points, which resulted in a 35-31 Golden Eagles lead. She came in leading the league in scoring at 18.4 points per game.
“We knew she would be a bully driver, put her head down and go,” said Bison forward Rylee Nudell. “We had a tough time containing her. She got on a roll and made it difficult for us.”
Still, despite a 3-for-17 shooting second quarter, NDSU was still hanging tough with a team that beat it 70-62 in January. Lippe had 33 points by the time the Golden Eagles took a 56-52 lead into the fourth quarter.
Nudell, who led the Bison with 22 points, quickly gave her team a rare lead with a 3-point field goal and two free throws. The Bison had the last shot in regulation, but couldn’t get a shot off before the final horn.
NDSU took a 74-70 lead in OT, but the offense went cold from there.
“It’s always frustrating when you’re not scoring the way you’re capable of,” said Bison guard Ryan Collins. “But we tried to hold our heads up the best we could, but we just didn’t come out with a win. It’s always disappointing to lose, especially on our home floor.”
Lippe’s 46 was the most by a Division I player this season. The previous Summit high this season was 33 by Denver’s Madison Nelson against Nebraska-Omaha.
“She’s super physical, super tough,” Collins said. “She likes contact. She’s just physically strong. Pretty special performance by her.”
ORU 21 35 56 66 80
NDSU 20 31 52 66 76
ORU (10-13, 5-5 Summit): Holt 3-6 4-7 10, Brotons 6-11 2-4 14, Kirkhart 0-4 0-0 0, Torrey 3-12 2-3 10, Lippe 17-26 9-10 46, Schumacher 0-1 0-0 0, Skalnik 0-2 0-0 0, Garvie 0-2 0-0 0, Summers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-64 17-24.
NDSU (6-16, 3-7 Summit): Nudell 7-11 4-4 22, Dietz 3-8 0-0 6, Zivaljevic 5-10 2-2 12, Cobbins 5-13 2-2 15, Rimdal 0-4 2-2 2, Skibiel 1-4 0-0 3, Gaislerova 5-10 0-0 12, Scales 1-4 1-2 3, Voegeli 0-5 1-2 1, Terrer van Gool 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-69 12-14.
Total fouls: ORU 18, NDSU 17. Fouled out: Gaislerova. Rebounds: ORU 36 (Lippe 11); NDSU 44 (Nudell 11). 3-point goals: ORU 5-17 (Kirkhart 0-2, Torrey 2-7, Lippe 3-5, Skalnik 0-2, Garvie 0-2); NDSU 10-21 (Nudell 4-5, Zivaljevic 0-1, Cobbins 3-7, Gaislerova 2-5, Scales 0-1, Skibiel 1-2). Assists: ORU 8 (Brotons 2); NDSU 12 (Zivaljevic 6). Turnovers: ORU 13 (Brotons, Lippe 4); NDSU 15 (Zivaljevic 5). A-1,242.