Marena Whittle’s last home game in the green and gold Bison uniform didn’t end the way she wanted it to.
But a video played after the game highlighting her best moments as a Bison student-athlete and her family was in attendance to share senior day with her.
“I think everyone could see I was smiling ear to ear,” Whittle said at her final home press conference. “It was cool to experience it with my family; it was awesome.”
She finished with seven points, going 2-for-10 from the floor.
But as the final buzzer went off Saturday at Scheels Arena, the University of Denver (5-23, 3-12 Summit) snapped its 10-game losing streak, beating North Dakota State 55-45.
The Bison (7-20, 2-12 Summit) were outscored 18-5 in the third quarter and shot 29.1 percent from the field on senior day. The ladies go on the road for the final two games of the season.
It was an ugly shooting performance for everyone except Taylor Thunstedt for the Bison.
The sophomore guard finished the game with 17 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field. Everyone else on the team went a combined 9-for-44 from the floor.
The shooting slump started toward the end of the first quarter for NDSU, going 4:41 without a point, but with 7:42 left in the second quarter sophomore Brooke Yaggie sprinkled a free throw on the drought.
After the Yaggie free throw, NDSU went on a 10-0 run and trailed the Pioneers 23-21 with 2:18 left in the second quarter after freshman Megan Gamble’s layup.
At the end of the first half, Denver led NDSU 26-24, but even with the comeback, the Bison were trying to put together its shooting percentage, which was just under 29 percent (8-for-28). However, NDSU had a positive to take into halftime; they outscored UD 13-7 in the second quarter and head coach Marena Walseth said during the second quarter her team was able to get into more of an up tempo offense.
“They made adjustments at halftime and I think they tried to lull us to sleeping force us to take outside jumpers,” Walseth said about Denver’s plan. “In the third quarter we played at their pace, at the end of the day their pace isn’t the pace we are successful at.”
But coming out of halftime the Bison went scoreless yet again for a long time. This time it was for 4:23 but only found itself down 33-24 with 5:37 left in the quarter.
After back-to-back three-pointers by sophomore Jordyn Alt, the Pioneers took its biggest lead of the game at 41-26.
And as the Bison couldn’t find the bottom of the net after shooting just 10 percent in the quarter; Denver was able to hold onto the lead for the rest of the game.
“We’ve now made our opportunity more challenging,” Walseth said about getting Summit League postseason birth. “(But) not out of contention, so there is still stuff to play for next weekend; it’s just much more urgent.”
On Thursday, NDSU will travel to Western Illinois University, and Saturday the Bison will take on Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne in its final two games of the 2016 season.