Idaho State closed the game with 29 of the final 39 points to earn a 60-43 win over North Dakota in Big Sky Conference play Saturday afternoon at Reed Gym. ISU (12-9, 7-5) rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to outscore UND 42-20 in the final stanza.
North Dakota got out to a good start, scoring the first two buckets of the game before ISU responded with an 8-0 run to take its first advantage. The teams traded leads in a close first half with both defenses carrying play. ISU held a slim 18-17 edge until UND finished out the first frame with the final six points to grab a 23-18 halftime advantage.
After Kaela Oakes-- who led ISU with 21 points Saturday-- hit a layup with 4:43 remaining in the opening half, UND held the Bengals without a field goal the rest of the frame. A Megan Lauck free throw followed by a Cy'erra Mills triple and an Emily Evers putback gave North Dakota its largest lead at five, where it stood at the break.
The physical tone remained in the second half as the teams scrapped for every loose ball. Nicole Smart had back-to-back jumpers to regain a 33-31 UND edge with just over 14 minutes left but it would prove be the final field goal of the game for the visitors with the Bengals putting together a 15-2 run over the next nine minutes.
The final bucket in that stretch was a back-breaking desperation three from Oakes with the shot clock expiring. Just two seconds shown on the shot clock as Oakes collected a wild in-bounds pass from underneath the ISU basket. With her back to the bucket deep on the far sidelines, Oakes turned an fired a heave at the hoop and as it fell through it gave ISU all of the momentum and a double-digit advantage at 46-35.
The Bengals-- who had two players reach the 20-point plateau (Oakes-
21, Ashleigh Vella- 20)-- were able to recover from a poor shooting night in a home loss Thursday to Northern Colorado to score 42 second-half points in the win. ISU held UND's starting front court of Madi Buck and Megan Lauck to just 3-of-23 combined Saturday.
North Dakota (9-12, 4-8) was led by Buck's 10-point effort, including five from the free-throw line. Mills registered nine points on 3-of-3 shooting while Lauck added seven points, eight rebounds and four steals.
North Dakota heads back home to host the top two teams in the Big Sky Conference standings heading into today's action. UND welcomes Montana State to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Thursday and faces Montana Saturday.