By Jeff Kolpack
Forum News Service
FARGO — North Dakota State put a screeching end to several years of women’s basketball frustration against the University of North Dakota. The Bison shut down the Fighting Hawks with some good old-fashioned defense in beating UND for the first time in the Division I era.
The 69-57 win before 1,810 fans at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex ended eight straight UND wins and was NDSU’s first over the Hawks since 2004. The teams did not play each other from 2005-11.
“It feels good, it means everything,” said Bison center Emily Dietz, from Fargo Shanley. “Coming into this game, being from North Dakota, you have a lot of pride in your school and it was a good win.”
The win improved NDSU’s overall record to 6-12, but more importantly evened its Summit League record at 3-3. The Bison moved ahead of the Fighting Hawks (3-4) in the standings.
“I think everyone was a rock star in their roles,” said Bison forward Michelle Gaislerova. “Coach always talks about it, be a rock star in your role. Everybody did their job.”
Gaislerova’s job was scoring. She was 5 of 6 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points. NDSU was especially solid in the second and third quarters, turning the fourth quarter into more of a victory parade.
“We’ve grown so much as people, we trust each other, we play together and that creates a better atmosphere,” Gaislerova said.
It wasn’t a smooth afternoon at the outset for the Fighting Hawks. Head coach Travis Brewster took a time out just 1 minute, 23 seconds into the first quarter, an ominous sign that saw the Hawks drop their third straight game and fall to 8-12 overall.
“We have to get better and we have a short amount of time to do that,” Brewster said. “We’re kind of in a funk right now and we have to fight our way out of it.”
The rest of the quarter went fine for UND, but the Bison asserted themselves in the second quarter outscoring the Hawks 25-17. It led to a 40-34 halftime advantage with NDSU a sharp 4 of 7 from 3-point range and 6 of 6 from the free throw line.
That crispness didn’t last. Not to be outdone by Brewster’s early time out, NDSU head coach Maren Walseth called for one of her own 57 seconds into the second half. It worked. The Bison stopped an 8-0 UND run with seven straight of their own and never looked back.
“I just said I don’t know what happened to you guys but change it,” Walseth said. “With an older group growing together, they were able to take that harshness and immediately change it. I was pleased with how they responded.”
Heading into the final 10 minutes, NDSU led 54-43.
The Bison held UND leading scorer Lexi Klabo in check, with Klabo drawing her fourth foul early in the quarter. Meanwhile, Dietz’s three-point play with 6:31 remaining gave NDSU its largest lead at 62-47.
“I think Emily over the course of this season, just seeing her grow and gain game experience,” said NDSU head coach Maren Walseth. “We thought she was going to get one-on-one coverage and we encouraged our posts to take their time and do what comes easy. Don’t make it overly complicated.”
Dietz was solid all day underneath finishing with 16 points and 7 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 sophomore was part of a stout defensive effort on Klabo, who finished with 11 points on 3 of 10 shooting.
The country’s leader in free throws made was 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
“We knew she was a good, veteran player,” Dietz said. “And we talked constantly in practice about being physical with her and making her uncomfortable. We had to make sure to contain her because she is such a great player.”
That’s part of the game, Klabo said, noting that her team needs to adjust to that style of play. It was the last game in her hometown for the senior from Fargo Davies, admitting the loss was disappointing.
“Yeah, but we have to learn from it and keep going on,” Klabo said. “It’s a long conference season and there’s a lot left to play. We get to play them at home as well.”
UND 17 17 9 14
NDSU 15 25 14 15
UND (8-12, 3-4 Summit): Morton 5-8 3-3 13, Orth 0-1 3-4 3, Dooley 1-2 0-0 2, Strand 0-4 0-0 0, Klabo 3-10 5-6 11, Dailey 3-7 2-2 8, Leet 3-4 0-0 7, Jarnot 1-1 0-0 2, Reinke 1-3 2-4 5, Fleecs 3-6 0-0 6. Totals: 20-46 15 19 57.
NDSU (6-12, 3-3 Summit): Nudell 2-7 0-0 5, Gaislerova 6-10 0-0 17, Spencer 2-5 0-0 4, Fernandez 1-4 2-2 4, Dietz 6-11 4-7 16, Zivaljevic 2-8 2-2 6, Rimdal 3-5 1-1 8, Kvilvang 1-1 2-2 4, Voegeli 2-2 1-2 5. Totals: 25-53 12-16 69.
Total fouls: UND 18, NDSU 16. Fouled out: Klabo. Rebounds: UND 29 (Morton 5); NDSU 28 (Dietz 7). 3-point goals: UND 2-9 (Orth 0-1, Klabo 0-1, Leet 1-2, Dailey 0-2, Reinke 1-1, Fleecs 0-1); NDSU 7-13 (Nudell 1-3, Gaislerova 5-6, Fernandez 0-2, Zivaljevic 0-1, Rimdal 1-1). Assists: UND 8 (Morton 4); NDSU 14 (Nudell, Zivaljevic 3). Turnovers: UND 18 (Morton 5); NDSU 13 (Fernandez 4). A-1,810.