Third quarter run isn’t enough to lift NDSU over short-handed Roos
The North Dakota State University women’s basketball team suffered a devastating loss to the tenth-seeded Kansas City Roos in their first game of the 2023 Summit League Tournament at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Herd never led in the 71-64 loss.
The underdog Roos team made their presence known early in tournament play, as they hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to sneak past Denver 66-65. UMKC guard Mannah Mensah dropped 30 points in the winning effort. Three UMKC players, including one starter, were unavailable due to a COVID-related illness. The team banded together, however, and continued to fight through adversity. The self-proclaimed “Mighty Seven” overcame a strong NDSU run in the third on their way to the upset victory.
Both matchups in the regular season between the two teams resulted in hard-fought NDSU victories, but as UMKC head coach Dionnah Jackson-Durrett exclaimed post-game, “At the end of the day, when you go into March, all of that goes out the window. Anything can happen, anybody can win.”
The Bison were out of sync in the first quarter, allowing UMKC to sprint out to an early 15-9 lead. The Herd struggled to get their offense going, as they were missing many easy shots in the paint and from beyond the arc. These misses allowed the Roos to maintain the lead at 18-13 to end the first.
NDSU’s shooting struggles continued into the second and the Roos’ lead grew to as many as 15. The Herd could not contain Mensah, as she had 16 points at halftime. UMKC held all of the momentum as they led the Bison 41-29 heading into the break.
“We weren’t us,” Bison guard Heaven Hamling admitted post-game. “We weren’t settling in well.”
The entire first half was uncharacteristic of NDSU, as they shot 0-6 from beyond the arc and were unable to activate their potent offense.
The Bison came out of the break with a fiercer pace, switching to a 3-2 zone to try and contain Mensah. The switch worked, as the Herd finally started to regain lost momentum. On the offensive end, NDSU was finally hitting their shots. The Bison also converted four UMKC turnovers into nine points. These elements all coalesced into a huge 19-4 overall run to cut the Roos’ lead to two heading into the fourth.
To the Herd’s dismay, the Roos stood unfazed, going on a 6-1 run to kickstart the final quarter. All the momentum that NDSU generated in the third seemed obsolete as UMKC led 63-58 before a media timeout. However, the Bison steadily marched closer to the Roos’ lead off the backs of Hamling and forward Emily Behnke. Behnke converted two free throws to put the Herd within three, 64-67, with 2:22 remaining.
The Bison took 13 shots in the period, yet only hit two, resulting in a miserable 15.4 percent field goal percentage. This inability to convert marked the end for the Herd, who was forced to foul and give UMKC the 71-64 win.
Mannah Mensah ended with 25 points for the Roos and guard E’Lease Stafford contributed 17 points, including three baskets from behind the arc. Both players played all 40 minutes of the game.
NDSU was led by Hamling with 16 points and Evans with 14. With the loss, the Bison women drop to 3-14 all-time at the Summit League tournament.
NDSU (18-11, 12-6 Summit) can still receive a bid for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), if South Dakota State wins the Summit League tournament. Meanwhile, the tenth-seeded Roos advance and await the winner of #3 North Dakota and #6 Omaha. The semifinal action will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Midco Sports Plus.