The North Dakota State University women’s basketball team dropped out of the Summit League Championships with a 69-56 quarterfinal loss to Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis on Saturday.
The young team showed both glimmers of hope for the future, while also reminding that the program still has some developing to do. Despite the loss, head coach Maren Walseth was still pleased with her team.
“That was the most complete 40 minutes we have played all year, from an intensity perspective, from an execution perspective, from a sticking to the game plan perspective,” said Walseth
NDSU traveled to Sioux Falls as the No. 7 seed and one of the coldest teams in the Summit League, and they looked the part.
“We were the underdogs obviously, no one thought we could do it. So, we played our hardest and left it all out on the court,” said freshman Reilly Jacobson.
The Bison committed 17 turnovers, which the Jaguars turned into 26 points. NDSU meanwhile could only conjure up eight points off 12 Jaguar turnovers.
IUPUI’s Danielle Lawrence tore apart the Bison, finishing with 23 points. She was aided by Mikale Rogers, who added another 15.
“(Lawrence) has a really explosive first step, and she is a dual-threat. She can shoot the three and she can drive,” said NDSU’s Kennedy Childers.
Rogers added about her teammate, “she is really saucy with the ball.”
It was a game that perfectly summed up the season for the Bison, right from the opening tip.
NDSU opened the game with three turnovers before they got their first basket. By Sarah Jacobson’s free throw three minutes in, the Jags held a 10-0 lead.
The limp start meant that despite seven-point run, NDSU still trailed in the middle of the first quarter.
The full recovery was never made, as Lawrence stepped in to stop the Bison’s momentum. Her lay-up and subsequent free throw pushed NDSU away.
A 7-0 run by IUPUI but enough distance to make it comfortable. “Basketball is a game of runs,” said Walseth.
NDSU’s Briana Jones made it a ten-point game early in the second half, and that lead was stable throughout the rest of the game.
NDSU struggled to make jumpers outside of the paint as both teams went scoreless for two minutes in the third. That span saw the Bison turn the ball over three times.
Still, the lead hovered around 10-15 points for the remainder of the game. “I thought there was a chance in the third quarter, in the fourth quarter,” said Walseth. “I felt like we were stuck at that 10 mark for too many possessions, we needed to make a crack to make it under 10.”
NDSU top scorer Taylor Thunstedt had a forgettable afternoon, committing 5 turnovers, and waiting until two minutes into the final quarter to make a basket. She ended the afternoon with 6 points, shooting just 37.5 percent.
“We held Thunstedt to six points, and anytime you are able to hold her down, teams have had success against North Dakota State,” said IUPUI head coach Austin Parkinson.
With Thunstedt struggling, the sophomore Childers tried to spark the team off the bench. She would get two of the Bison’s three three-pointers.
Her three-point play in the fourth cut the Jag’s lead to 12. She finished with 15 points off the bench to lead the team.
Jacobson had a good finish to her freshman campaign, scoring 10 on 5-6 shooting and collecting 5 rebounds.
NDSU is now winless in their last eight playoff games. They finish the season at 6-24, one year after missing the playoffs. It was the worst season for NDSU in terms of wins since 2013-14, when they also won six games.
This offseason will be a time for development for the team. “It goes back to the youth playing, you were seeing things from Sarah (Jacobson), Tyra (Jones), and RJ (Reilly Jacobson) today that you weren’t seeing at the beginning of the year,” said Walseth, “I am encouraged.”