South Dakota women roll past Bison in Summit League opener

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Summit League Tournament woes continued for North Dakota State’s women’s basketball program Saturday, March 9.

Suffering a 74-51 opening-round loss to South Dakota at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, NDSU now has a 1-10 all-time record in the Summit League Tournament. The Bison’s only win in this tournament came in a 2009 quarterfinal victory over Western Illinois.

“Their physicality, specifically in the first half, really got to us,” said NDSU head coach Maren Walseth. “Our inability to make good passes really hurt us.”

As the No. 7 seed, the Bison were the decided underdogs against No. 2-seeded USD. It showed right away when the Coyotes jumped out to a 14-6 lead.

It didn’t get any better in the second quarter for the Bison. The Coyotes went on a 17-2 run to take a 41-16 halftime lead.

USD, which averages 26 points per game off of turnovers, scored 14 points off of 12 Bison turnovers in the first half. The Bison made only 1-of-6 field goals in the second quarter, unable to convert a field during a 9½-minute stretch.

“They are a very physical team,” said Emily Dietz, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Fargo Shanley who led the Bison with 20 points. “I just think we just needed to be a little more patient on offense. They got us to be a little frantic.”

Sophomore Michelle Gaislerova, who ranks third in career 3-pointers at NDSU with 74, drained six treys the last time the Bison played USD — a 76-57 loss in Vermillion on Feb. 28. She was limited to one 3-pointer and only three points on Saturday.

“We did a much better on Gaislerova today,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “I thought North Dakota State came out in the third quarter and really took it to us.”

But by then, USD — a team many expect to get an invitation to the NCAA Tournament even if it doesn’t win the Summit championship — had built a lead that was too much to overcome.

“They share the ball very well,” said Walseth, who in her fifth season at NDSU now has a 40-106 record. “South Dakota can score at all three levels at a very high rate which makes them a very dangerous team. Hopefully for our league, that could get them a win or two in the NCAA Tournament.”

NDSU’s season ends with a 7-22 record — the fifth straight season of less than 10 wins.