Lady Jacks overrun NDSU Bison in Fargo

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

In a game of runs, the NDSU Bison could not keep up with the Jackrabbits as they beat their border-state rival 71-55 at the Bison Sports Arena on Jan. 26 in Fargo, N.D.

The home team started out well as the Bison’s leading scorer, Emily Moran, who had 15 points in the contest, made a three-pointer with just over a minute into the game.

From that moment on, it was all Jackrabbits. Defensively the Jacks did not allow a field goal for more than 12 minutes.

SDSU’s coaches were impressed with the Lady Jacks’ effort: ?”I thought it was really a complete game for us,” head coach Aaron Johnston said. “Defensively, I thought we played exceptionally well. North Dakota State made a couple of runs, but our defense was really good. We rebounded well, and we did the things well our team is capable of doing.”

The offense got a spark from sophomore Ketty Cornemann as she scored five points in a row during a 9-0 Jacks run. The Jacks held the lead for more than 36 minutes. The feisty Bison squad (9-10 overall, 4-5 in Summit League play) cut the SDSU advantage to a mere seven points with just over four minutes to go in the first half, but SDSU would not be denied.

In the first half, SDSU (14-6, 7-2) dominated the paint as the Jacks scored 20 points inside the key, while the Bison only managed six. Points off turnovers made a big difference as SDSU forced 15 points off turnovers, while the Bison made only two points off turnovers.

“I thought it was a great first half. I think one of the things we have struggled with this year is defending people on the perimeter,” said Johnston.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, the visiting team kept the pressure up and used an Andrea Verdegan three-pointer to take a 25-point lead a little more than two minutes into the half.

A host of Bison turnovers gave way to unsung heroes who have not been accustomed to making clutch shots so far in the 2007-2008 campaign. Senior Courtney Grimsrud, whose scoring has taken a plunge (2.7 points a game, compared to 7.5 ppg in the 2006-07 season), and junior Ashlea Muckenhirn scored the final eight points of the game putting victory virtually out of reach for the Bison.

Muckenhirn made two consecutive three-pointers. On the next play, Grimsrud benefited as two Bison defenders were quick to apply pressure to Muckenhirn, causing the senior from Sisseton to have a wide-open layup.

The Lady Bison admitted they were not prepared for the looks SDSU gave them. “We prepared a little bit differently on their defense. We thought they were going to do some things differently especially on the help side,” said NDSU guard Emily Moran. “They played a little bit differently than we had thought. We knew they were going to have pressure, but in a half court we thought they would have a little more help side defense to widen our perimeter players.”

Nine of the 10 Jackrabbit players who saw action tallied points, including freshman Macie Michelson. In the first half, she drove past two Bison defenders and shook another.

Michelson was also involved in a memorable play mid-way through the first half. Inger Hodgson hit the ball off Michelson’s backside as she was throwing the ball in. Michelson managed to get a hand into the face of Hudson, but not before Hudson could make a layup and draw a foul from the Jacks’ guard.

The Bison had two scorers with doble figures, Moran with 15 points and Lisa Bue with 14 points. Hodgson had three steals to lead all players. The Bison shot 75 percent from the free throw line (15-20).

Forwards Jennifer Warkenthien and Maria Boever notched 12 points a piece to lead the Jacks. Muckenhirn and Verdegan each scored 10.

“It was a game of two halves, and you can’t just show up and play the one half. I think South Dakota State was just a better team today,” said NDSU head coach Amy Ruley.

Despite NDSU’s lead in the all-time series (37-28), recently SDSU has held the advantage in the border rivalry, going 11-6 since Johnston became the head coach in 2000.

Up next for the Jackrabbits is a two-game swing to Oakland (Mich.) on Feb. 2 and IPFW on Feb. 4. The Lady Jacks beat both IPFW, 68-62, and Oakland, 81-71, at Frost Arena earlier this season. Coach Johnston stressed the importance of this two-game stretch as both teams “are in contention of winning the Summit.”

SDSU is tied for first place in the Summit League after Western Illinois lost on Jan.28 to IPFW Mastodons 69-57 in Macomb, Ill.

#1.882903:3610473386.JPG:IMG_8244.JPG:Jennifer Warkenthien battles a Bison in low-post action.:Holly Scallon/The Spectrum