Fabulous freshman: Evans helps spark Bison women to home victory against Northern Colorado
NDSU guard Elle Evans led the team in scoring and also sparked the Bison with her defense against the Bears Tuesday at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
FARGO — North Dakota State passed an early-season maturity test Tuesday night at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
Five days after a signature win against the Minnesota Gophers, the Bison followed that with a 68-54 victory against Northern Colorado in nonconference Division I women's basketball at Scheels Center before 531 fans.
The Bison needed a strong fourth quarter and also got a strong all-around performance from true freshman wing Elle Evans to surge past the Bears.
"I think the fourth quarter was a chance to mature a little bit and grow a little bit and learn some things." said Bison head coach Jory Collins.
The 6-foot-3 Evans finished with a team-high 15 points with five rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and four steals. She scored seven points with two blocked shots and three steals in the fourth quarter.
"So impressive," said Bison junior Abby Schulte, who had 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. "I think tonight just goes to shows how much disruption (Evans) can cause on the defensive end and the offensive end."
The Bison surged into the lead for good with a 15-3 run that started late in the third quarter. The 5-foot-10 Schulte sparked the rally with a 3-point play that cut the UNC lead to 46-43 with three seconds to play in the third.
Schulte later added a 3-point play that gave the Bison a 48-46 lead with 9 minute, 14 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Evans sank a 3-pointer for a 55-48 lead with 7:37 remaining to cap the game-changing rally.
"We kind of needed that extra juice to get us through the game," Evans said. "So doing that in the fourth quarter shows a lot about our team."
The Bison outscored UNC 25-8 in the fourth quarter after UNC led by as many as nine points in the second quarter and seven points in the second half.
"That was really a fourth-quarter game," Collins said. "I thought we were pretty average for most of the game and then we were able to find a little extra juice there in the fourth quarter."
Collins liked the aggression Evans showed in the second half and particularly the fourth quarter.
"I was pretty upset with her in the first half because I thought she passed up some opportunities to do some things," Collins said. "She's got a chance to be pretty good I think."
UNC guard Hannah Simental sparked the Bears in the first half, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor. The 5-foot-8 guard was 5 of 5 on 30-pointers in the opening 20 minutes. Simental finished with a game-high 29 points, making 6 of 8 shots from beyond the 3-point line.
UNC started the second quarter on a 13-2 run to surge into the lead. Simental sank two 3-pointers during that stretch. Bears guard Gabi Fields capped the run with a basket that gave UNC a 25-17 lead with 6:39 to play in the second quarter.
Simental later sank a 3-pointer for a 28-19 lead with 5:15 to play in the first half. The Bison scored the final four points in the second quarter and the Bears had a 30-25 lead at halftime. UNC shot 67% (6 of 9) from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half. The Bison shot 32% (8 of 25) from the field and 11% (1 of 9) from 3-point range in the opening half.
NDSU's big fourth quarter helped the Bison overcome UNC's strong first half.
Evans is surprised she's playing such a sizable role early in her college career.
"I knew I'd be able to get some minutes, but to be starting, I would have never dreamed of doing it," Evans said. "It's crazy and the confidence Jory and the coaching staff and my teammates have, I mean it's just huge."
UNC 12 30 46 54
NDSU 15 25 43 68
UNC (3-2): Simental 10-17 3-3 29, Byrne 5-11 2-2 13, Fields 1-8 0-0 2, Klienhans 1-3 0-0 2, Andrews 1-1 0-0 2, Malinka 0-1 0-0 0, Stensgard 0-2 2-2 2, Specht 0-2 0-0 0, Halla 2-3 0-0 4, Bang 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-48 7-7 54.
NDSU (4-0): Hamling 2-8 0-1 5, Brown 4-9 2-2 11, Behnke 3-4 4-5 10, Evans 7-14 0-0 15, Schulte 3-7 7-7 13, Draper 0-2 4-4 4, Baldwin 0-1 0-0 0, Graham 2-5 0-0 5, Efoko Yomane 2-5 1-2 5, Hildebrandt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 18-21 68.
3-point goals: UNC 7-15 (Simental 6-8, Byrne 1-4, Fields 0-1, Kleinhans 0-1, Stensgard 0-1), NDSU 4-17 (Hamling 1-4, Brown 1-1, Evans 1-5, Schulte 0-3, Baldwin 0-1, Graham 1-3). Total fouls: UNC 20, NDSU 11. Rebounds: UNC 32 (Byrne 10), NDSU 29 (Hamling 6). Assists: UNC 9 (Bang 3), NDSU 15 (Hamling 6). Turnovers: UNC 19, NDSU 9.