NDSU maintains second place in Summit League race
Bison fall short against Golden Eagles, 75-53
NDSU traveled to Tulsa, Okla. on Thursday for a conference matchup against the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles. The Bison rolled into the contest fresh off a hard-fought win over Nebraska-Omaha, looking to extend a three-game win streak. ORU returned home after a heartbreaking loss to the University of St. Thomas. The Herd may have had the momentum leading up to the game, but when the opening horn sounded, the Eagles ruled the court.
The match started close as both teams traded early baskets. Bison sophomore guard Abby Graham drove in for a layup to give the Herd their first, and only lead of the game, 9-8, forcing an ORU timeout with 6 minutes left in the first quarter. Coming out of the timeout, the Golden Eagles sprinted out on a 9-0 run that lasted three minutes. However, NDSU struck back. A jump shot with 6 seconds left by guard Heaven Hamling put the Herd within striking range, as the Bison ended the first quarter trailing 19-15.
The second quarter saw NDSU attempt to recoup the lead, but their efforts were put to rest by missed shots and ORU’s tight defense. However, it was a rough shooting night for both teams, as nobody could get a shot to fall. Over the course of the quarter, this cold shooting forced the Herd to go into the half down 33-28.
Coming out of the half, both teams fell victim to sloppy play, as within the first five minutes, there were five total turnovers. Oral Roberts took full advantage, as they converted on all of NDSU’s blunders, sparking an 11-0 run that was stopped by a Bison three-pointer with 5:01 left in the third. After a TV timeout, the sloppy play continued, allowing ORU to maintain their lead heading into the fourth.
Down 49-38, NDSU needed to capitalize on ORU’s mistakes if they wanted to win. Unfortunately for the Bison, the Eagles’ shots finally started to connect, stretching the ORU lead to as much as 25. The Herd could not overcome their cold shooting as they were outscored 15-26 in the final quarter.
Over the course of the game, NDSU shot a measly 28.4 percent from the field, partnered with 10 percent shooting from beyond the arc. This halted NDSU’s usual fast-paced offensive attack and denied them the opportunity to push the tempo of the game. Forward Tirzah Moore was an absolute monster for ORU as she scored 30 points and racked up 15 boards.
With the 75-53 loss, the Bison dropped to 12-6 on the season and 6-2 in conference play. The Herd looks to get their revenge on the Eagles when they come to Fargo on February 18th.
Evans scores 23, Bison bounce back against Kansas City in 75-66 victory
After their cold shooting loss against the University of Oral Roberts, NDSU traveled to Kansas City, Mo. to face off against the University of Missouri-Kansas City Roos on Saturday. The Bison looked to return to their winning ways and pick up a crucial road win that would help them maintain their position as second place in the Summit League.
The game started off fast, as Bison guard Elle Evans made a quick drive to put the Herd on the board within the first 15 seconds. This bucket marked the start of a career-high scoring night for the true freshman, who has been a consistent contributor for NDSU throughout her inaugural season. The Roos hastily answered the score with a layup of their own, starting a trend of traded baskets that lasted until the 4:58 mark where Evans converted an and-1 opportunity to put the Herd up 14-13. Following this, both teams went on a two-minute-long scoring drought. The drought ended for the Herd as forward Emily Behnke snagged two consecutive offensive rebounds, drawing a foul and energizing the team. After Behnke converted on one of the two shots, the Herd found Evans wide open for a three-pointer on the ensuing possession. NDSU and UMKC again traded baskets, however, the Bison held the advantage after one, up 22-19.
The Herd had a rough shooting stretch in the second quarter that halted their momentum, allowing the Roos to put the game back in striking distance. Behnke was the bright spot for the Herd in this quarter, as her impact in the paint paced NDSU. The Bison maintained their lead until the final possession of the half, where UMKC forward Tamia Ugass shot a miraculous layup to tie the game at 39.
Both teams struggled to get going at the start of the penultimate quarter. However, Behnke stayed consistent, leading an 8-2 run to keep the Bison on top early. The Herd’s lead shrunk deep into the quarter, as Ugass bullied the NDSU defense in the paint. Two successful free throws with four seconds remaining capped off a 7-3 run by UMKC, endangering the Bison lead heading into the fourth down 57-56.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by the Bison front court of Behnke and Evans, as their scoring presence kept the lead in NDSU’s hands through the Roos’ runs. Midway through the fourth, Evans showed her versatility on both sides of the court, as she caused two separate UMKC turnovers, and converted one of them on the fast break. Elle later drained a mid-range jumper to give the Bison their largest lead of the night, 75-62 with 1:32 remaining. The Roos tried to mount a comeback, but it was to no avail, as Behnke, Evans and the Bison held their lead strong, winning 75-66.
Evans ended with a career-high 23 points on 10/16 shooting and eight rebounds. Behnke racked up 14 points and 11 rebounds en route to the critical road victory.
With the win, the Herd solidified their second-place spot in the Summit. NDSU (13-6, 7-2 Summit) will now look to finish a season sweep of their pesky rivals up north as they head to Grand Forks, N.D. to face off against UND (11-8, 4-5 Summit) on January 28th. Tip-off is set for 1:05 p.m. The game will be available to viewers on Midco Sports and to listeners on Bison 1660AM.