FARGO -- The defensive effort in the second go-around against Oral Roberts saw a noticeable difference on the statistical sheet for the North Dakota State women’s basketball team. The result, however, was more of the same in the Summit League standings sheet.
The Golden Eagles held the Bison to three field goals in the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter and pulled away for a 65-54 victory Wednesday night at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. It was the sixth straight loss for the Bison and put them on the brink for one of the bottom two seeds for the Summit tournament next month with four games to play.
That would mean a first round game most likely against either South Dakota or South Dakota State.
Wednesday was the annual Pink Game in support of breast cancer awareness. The Bison wore pink uniforms trimmed in green.
“We were not playing for ourselves tonight,” said NDSU head coach Maren Walseth. “We were playing for those whose school color is pink and I thought our players took it to heart.”
The players also took defense to heart. The Eagles were part of a lost NDSU road trip three weeks ago when the Bison were beaten by 53 points at SDSU and 101-72 at Oral Roberts three days later.
“We knew we had to play better defense,” said Bison guard Sofija Zivaljevic. “They have (three players) who scored the majority of their points. We knew we had to keep them out of the paint, contest their shots and we did that in the first half.”
This one had a different feel from the outset. NDSU, after a 21-19 first quarter lead, expanded that to 27-19 on Zivaljevic’s 3-point field goal.
The Bison took a 34-30 lead into halftime on the heels of 5 of 9 from beyond the arc while holding the Eagles to 38 percent shooting.
ORU reclaimed the advantage in the third quarter outscoring the Bison 19-10. Still, it was just a four-point deficit for the home team heading into the final 10 minutes.
Finding open looks before the 30-second shot clock got in its final moments for the Bison was troublesome. Tyrah Spencer’s basket at the outset of the quarter brought NDSU within 49-47. It was still a 51-49 deficit when the Golden Eagles scored 10 of the next 12 points to put NDSU in a final-minute desperation mode.
“We knew they would do something different,” Walseth said of ORU. “They were more physical against us and that made it difficult to get into the paint.”
Bison sophomore Michelle Gaislerova’s 3-point field goal in the first quarter made her the seventh player in program history to hit at least 60 treys in one season. It was part of Walseth’s donation of a $100 for each 3-pointer to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund in memory of the former legendary North Carolina State women’s basketball coach.
NDSU finished 8 of 20.
ORU 19 11 19 16
NDSU 21 13 10 10
ORU (14-12, 7-6 Summit): Mayberry 6-17 1-2 13, Gilbert 1-5 0-0 2, Beatty 3-9 0-0 7, Brotons 1-2 0-0 2, Lippe 6-12 6-9 22, Kirkhart 0-0 0-0 0, Schumacher 3-5 6-6 12, Garvie 2-5 0-0 6. Totals: 22-57 14-19 65.
NDSU (6-18, 3-9 Summit): Nudell 1-5 0-0 2, Gaislerova 6-12 0-0 15, Spencer 3-7 0-2 9, Fernandez 1-5 0-0 2, Dietz 3-10 2-3 8, Zivaljevic 5-11 4-6 16, Rimdal 0-0 0-0, Voegeli 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 20-52 6-11 65.
Total fouls: ORU 14, NDSU 21. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: ORU 35 (Schumacher 10); NDSU 37 (Fernandez 9). 3-point goals: ORU 7-20 (Mayberry 0-5, Gilbert 0-1, Beatty 0-2, Lippe 4-7, Garvie 2-4); NDSU 8-20 (Gaislerova 3-6, Spencer 3-5, Fernandez 0-2, Zivaljevic 2-5). Assists: ORU 11 (Mayberry, Gilbert 3); NDSU 14 (Spencer 5). Turnovers: ORU 5 (Beatty 4); NDSU 12 (Zivaljevic 4). A-288.