Oakland University (Mich.) went more than seven minutes without scoring Saturday night. It didn't hurt the Grizzlies, because they shut down North Dakota State for an even longer period of time.
The Bison went almost eight minutes of the second half without a point and the result wasn't surprising. The 60-48 Oakland victory in Summit League women's basketball before a season-high 2,120 fans at the Bison Sports Arena was NDSU's fifth loss in its last seven games.
The Grizzlies were a model of efficiency, committing just five turnovers - with five players each having one mistake. But where they were toughest can't be measured in statistics.
The Bison discovered what makes the Grizzlies the No. 1 defensive team in the conference.
"It seemed like everything we tried to do offensively they were able to take away," said Bison forward Abby Plucker. "They were taking every option away."
This time, NDSU almost did a reversal of the nearly-getting-blown-out theme. The Bison saw an 18-point lead last time out at home against Oral Roberts turn to a loss. On Saturday, Oakland threatened to run away with it in the first half taking a double-digit lead and looked dazzling at it in the process.
But the Grizzlies' smooth road turned rough, especially in the first six minutes of the second half. They didn't score until Bethany Watterworth's inside bucket with 14:35 remaining, which cut into a 39-33 NDSU lead.
"Our defense kept us in it," Watterworth said. "I didn't realize that. When you can't score for a while, you can't hang your head. You have to stay positive."
Then it was the Bison who went cold.
Showing more hustle on defense, the Grizzlies only allowed a Danielle DeGagne field goal from the 14:20 mark until Janae Burich's inside hoop with 6:35 remaining. The Bison struggled to beat the 30-second shot clock four straight trips down the floor and Oakland took advantage by taking a 44-41 lead.
"The players started getting more aggressive and feisty as the game went on," said Oakland head coach Beckie Francis, "and we thrive on defense."
It was still a 48-45 lead when Plucker misfired on an open 3-pointer.
"It would have changed the momentum in our favor," Plucker said. "It was a good look but unfortunately I wasn't able to knock it down."
The Grizzlies maintain that margin and the killer field goal was a 3-pointer by Sharise Calhoun at the shot clock horn with 1:35 left, which gave Oakland a 53-45 advantage.
"I'm proud of our girls and proud of our fight," Watterworth said.
OU (12-7, 6-2 Summit): Watterworth 6-15 2-4 15 14, Carnago , Glover 5-10 1-2 11, Minifee 1-4 0-0 2, Calhoun 4-11 9-9 18, Patritto , Malone 1-3 0-0 3, Hamlet 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-52 12-15 60
NDSU (8-10, 4-4 Summit): Shea 1-2 0-0 2, Plucker 6-14 0-0 14, Trecker 2-4 1-1 5, DeGagne 4-9 0-0 8, Birkel 4-9 2-4 11, Linz 0-6 0-0 0, Burich 3-6 2-2 8. Totals: 20-50 5-7 48.
Halftime: OU 33, NDSU 31. Total fouls: OU 12, NDSU 14. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: OU 31 (Glover 6); NDSU 31 (Birkel 8). 3-point goals; OU 4-10 (Watterworth 1-2, Minifee 0-2, Calhoun 1-2, Patritto 1-2, Malone 1-2); NDSU 3-17 (Plucker 2-6, Trecker 0-2, DeGagne 0-1, Birkel 1-2, Linz 0-5). Assists: OU 11 (Minifee 5); NDSU 11 (Birkel 5). Turnovers: OU 5 (Five with 1); NDSU 10 (DeGagne 3). A-2,120.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia