NDSU women’s basketball kicks off season with a 65-63 win over Montana

A third-quarter surge and clutch shots in the fourth propel the Bison over the Grizzlies.

The North Dakota State University women’s basketball team stormed into Missoula, Montana on Monday for their season opener against the University of Montana. Through three lead changes and four ties, the Bison came out with a win, beating the Grizzlies 65-63.

The Bison spent the first quarter playing catch-up, as the Grizzlies got off to a quick start. A 7-3 run with three minutes left in the quarter helped NDSU get within two, with the score at the end of the first being 16-14 in favor of Montana.

The second quarter saw the Bison struggle early with turnovers, which allowed the Grizzlies to get their lead up to as much as eight. The Herd’s early struggles quickly dissipated, as they surged on an 11-4 run to cut the Grizz lead down to one, ending the half with a score of 29-28.

NDSU kept their momentum strong in the third quarter, as senior guard Heaven Hamling came alive, scoring 13 points with 3 three-pointers in the quarter. Later in the quarter, junior guard Abby Schulte knocked down a jumper to put the Herd up 47-37, giving NDSU their largest lead of the night. However, turnovers continued to be an issue for the Bison, allowing Montana to tighten the game up with a 9-2 run, ending the quarter with NDSU up 49-46.

The Bison kept a small lead through the early moments of the fourth quarter. However, as the Herd’s shooting started to go cold, the Grizz started to drain threes, and the game was suddenly contested.

Reminiscent of last year’s game in Fargo, the Bison and the Grizzlies were going down to the wire. In last year’s bout in Fargo, Montana drilled a late jumper to shock the Bison, winning 65-63.

              This year, the Bison had their opportunity to get revenge, and they did just that. With 30 seconds left in the game, freshman guard Ellie Evans converted on a clutch ‘and-one’ opportunity to put the Herd up 64-63. After a block by junior forward Emily Behnke, Evans sank one more free throw to give NDSU the 65-63 lead.

The third-quarter surge from Hamling and clutch fourth-quarter shots by Evans led the Bison to their first win of the season.

Heaven Hamling led the way for the Bison, as she ended the night with 19 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

Sophomore forward Abbie Draper was also a key factor for the Herd. Draper was instrumental from beyond the arc for the Herd. She started the game off scolding hot from the three-point line, as she sank two to get the Bison on track in the first. Draper continued nailing shots at the end of the second, ending the game with four three-pointers, with 100 percent accuracy and scoring 12 points off the bench for NDSU.

NDSU forward Abbie Draper attempts a free throw vs Montana on Monday night. The Bison defeated the Grizzlies 65-63 in non-conference play. Photo Courtesy | NDSU Athletics

The Bison (1-0) look to add another non-conference win to the win column Thursday night as they host the Mayville State University Comets (3-1) for their home opener at the Scheels Center. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. The game will be streamed live on WDAY Xtra or available to listeners on Bison 1660AM. Student tickets are available at www.gobison.com/Student

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