Bison reach milestone with D-I victory

North Dakota State made a significant statement in its Division I move on Sunday afternoon. The university can chalk up another milestone victory, thanks to its women's basketball team's upset of Middle Tennessee State.

North Dakota State made a significant statement in its Division I move on Sunday afternoon. The university can chalk up another milestone victory, thanks to its women's basketball team's upset of Middle Tennessee State.

The Bison grabbed a big early lead and held on in the final few minutes to take a 65-58 win before 2,072 fans at the Bison Sports Arena.

NDSU's first home game against a Division I opponent since 1981 couldn't have been scripted better.

Middle Tennessee, playing its third road game in five days, was sluggish all afternoon. And the Bison took advantage.

"I don't know how many people gave us much hope going into the game," said head coach Amy Ruley. "But our athletes believe in themselves."


The believing started early, as the Bison took a 17-3 lead in the first seven minutes. Their biggest advantage was 24-7 with 8 minutes left in the first half - a lead that almost seemed surreal considering the Lady Raiders reached the round of 32 in last year's NCAA Tournament.

Moreover, Middle Tennessee possessed similar quickness to last year's Texas Christian University team, which demolished the Bison by 33 points.

"TCU was the fastest team we'd ever seen, but we're a lot more experienced with a few more games under our belt," said Bison sophomore guard Lisa Bue.

NDSU also was more poised against the Lady Raiders. Guard Katie Lorenz not only had 21 points and 11 rebounds, but consistently handled the intense Middle Tennessee pressure.

"It was scrappy, a lot of elbows and everything," said Bison forward Danni Heintzelman. "But we had to stay composed as a team."

It took until the last four minutes before the Lady Raiders put together a string of good offensive looks. Three-point field goals by Kystle Horton, Johnna Abney and Chrissy Givens cut the Bison lead to 53-50 with 3:15 left.

NDSU maintained its lead in that span with Lorenz's two free throws and driving layup. Middle Tennessee got no closer.

"We were tired, but we have to play above that," said Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell. "You can look at all kinds of excuses. North Dakota State just beat us. They came into their gym and they had a little pride and they took it to us."


Middle Tennessee rarely got fast-break baskets. Once in their half-court offense, the Bison were the better team with a rare zone defense that limited the Lady Raiders' good looks at the hoop.

Insell said NDSU did a good job of switching defenses. He was at a loss of words for his offense, which shot 36 percent.

"I don't know the word to use," he said. "I don't know what was wrong with our offense. They were standing around."

NDSU had its moments of standing around in the second half. But Bue came to the rescue with 10 of her 13 points in the final eight minutes.

Afterward, the Bison were standing around soaking up their second win in five games this year.

"We wanted to come out and show our fans what kind of style we're playing this year," Lorenz said. "We had a lot to prove."

MTSU (4-3): Horton 3-7 0-2 6, Stovall 7-11 1-2 15, Abney 1-5 0-0 3, Mason 1-6 1-1 3, Givens 7-18 7-11 23, Martin 1-2 0-0 3, Barclay 1-6 0-0 3, Boyd 0-2 0-0 0, Pittman 1-4 0-0 2. Totals: 22-61 9-16 58.

NDSU (2-3): Kayla Dahlen 0-3 6-6 6, Heintzelman 5-10 0-0 11, Gibbs 1-3 1-2 3, Lorenz 7-16 6-9 21, Bue 5-9 3-4 13, Katie Dahlen 0-0 0-0 0, Ellison 2-3 2-2 6, Slyt 0-2 1-2 1, Sonstelie 1-3 2-4 4, Penley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-49 21-29 65.


Halftime: NDSU 30, MTSU 17. Total fouls: MTSU 25, NDSU 17. Fouled out: Abney. Rebounds: MTSU 34 (Stovall 10); NDSU 41 (Lorenz 11). 3-point goals: MTSU 5-16 (Abney 1-5, Mason 0-2, Givens 2-4, Martin 1-1, Barclay 1-4); NDSU 2-9 (Kayla Dahlen 0-1, Heintzelman 1-2, Lorenz 1-2, Ellison 0-1, Slyt 0-1, Sonstelie 0-2). Assists: MTSU 13 (Givens 7); NDSU 16 (Lorenz 6). Turnovers: MTSU 16 (Givens 4); NDSU 21 (Lorenz 4). A-2,072.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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