Freshman Marena Whittle hit a layup with 3-seconds left to lift North Dakota State University to a 60-59 win over host Oakland University in a Summit League women's basketball game played Saturday, Jan. 12, before 514 fans at the Athletics Center O'Rena.
North Dakota State (2-3 Summit, 6-11) won its first road game since Jan. 30, 2012, when the Bison defeated Fort Wayne. It was NDSU's second win at Oakland in the series, the first coming Feb. 4, 2008.
Whittle, a 5-foot-11 freshman from Vermont, South Victoria Australia, took a pass from Dani DeGagne and hit the layup in traffice underneath. It was Whittle's only field goal of the game.
Whittle had come up with a steal with 24-seconds remaining to set up the game-winning play. She snared a career-high 15 rebounds during the contest, her fifth double-figure rebound effort of the season.
Oakland (1-4 Summit, 7-10) led 59-55 with 4:04 left when Elena Popkey found Peyton Apsey for a bucket inside. They were the last points for the Golden Grizzlies, who had only three field goal attempts after Apsey's layup.
DeGagne drilled her first three-pointer of the season and drew North Dakota State within 59-58 with 3:00 left. The Bison hit 5 of 10 three-pointers in the second half. DeGagne finished with 10 rebounds, nine rebounds and tied a career-high with six assists.
Oakland tried to play keep-way in the final minute and came up with several offensive rebounds including one with 34-seconds left before Whittle's steal.
North Dakota State trailed by as many as nine points in the first half and by seven in the second, but rallied back each time. The score was tied five times and the lead changed hands on six occasions.
Senior Katie Birkel recorded a game and season-high 22 points for NDSU. Birkel hit 9 of 18 field goals including a pair of three-pointers. She recorded 20-plus points for the 10th time in her career and the first time this season.
The Bison received a spark from freshman Holly Johnson and senior Britney Gaines in the second half. Johnson scored 10 points, hitting all four field goal attempts including a pair of three-balls. Gaines scored all seven of her points in the second half.
Victoria Lipscomb led Oakland with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Popkey netted 13 points and Olivia Nash added 11. The Golden Grizzlies shot 41 percent from the field compared to 36.5 percent for NDSU, and also held a 41-37 advantage on the glass.
North Dakota State committed only eight turnovers and turned a dozen Oakland miscues into 10 points.
The Bison host IUPUI at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Bison Sports Arena.