Women’s Basketball Comes Up Short in Summit League Championship But Receives Invite to WNIT

On Tuesday, March 12, the NDSU Women’s Basketball team played in the Summit League Tournament championship game. NDSU (21-11) played number one-seeded, South Dakota State (27-5), with a chance to advance to the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament as a D1 program but fell 67-54.

NDSU played their arguably best defense game of the season in front of 7,883 people in Sioux Falls at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. SDSU and NDSU went back and forth for the lead on the scoreboard. The Bison had 15 points from second-chance opportunities and 10 points off turnovers. 

Leading up to the game, the Bison defeated No. 3 seed Oral Roberts 75-66, in the semifinals of the Summit League Tournament. The victory was NDSU’s first time playing in the league title game. 

In the first half, the two teams were in constant battle but finished off the second frame with a three-pointer buzzer from Heaven Hamling. In the third, the teams were fighting to stay on top. With 6:54 left on the clock, Avery Koenen got a three-point play with a layup and free throw and Hamling added a jumper from the field to give the Bison a bucket advantage, but SDSU’s Mesa Byom made a three-pointer shortly after. In the final frame, the Jackrabbits caught momentum and took home the title. 

For the tournament as a whole, Hamling led the team with 59 points and 25 rebounds, Abbie Draper got 38 points and 15 rebounds, Elle Evans scored 38 points and 13 rebounds, Koenen finished with 24 points and 25 rebounds, and Abby Schule got 19 points.

Despite the hard loss, there are many things to celebrate for the Bison. It was NDSU’s first time advancing to the Summit League championship game in the history of the D1 program. NDSU has won 20 games in the last two seasons for the first time since the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, making it the first in NDSU’s history since going D1.

The best part is their season is not over as the Bison just accepted an invitation to compete in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), as announced on Monday. This will be NDSU’s second season making an appearance at the tournament. Out of the 48 teams in the Summit League bracket, they were one of the three teams to be selected. NDSU received a first-round bye and will be playing the winner of Montana vs. Boise State. The site and date are to be announced at a later date.

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