The North Dakota State women's basketball team (2-4) rolled to a 70-53 win over the Montana Grizzlies (3-1) in the opening round of the DoubleTree LA Westside Thanksgiving Classic Friday, Nov. 29, inside Gersten Pavilion on the Loyola Marymount campus.
The Grizzlies came into the game receiving votes in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 poll.
The Bison fell behind 14-7 with 15:12 remaining in the first half after a three-pointer from Montana's Torry Hill, but Brooke LeMar scored nine consecutive points to give the Bison their first lead of the game, 16-14, at the 12:26 mark.
NDSU would go on to lead the Griz by as much as 11 when LeMar drilled a jumper with 2:57 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Bison went into halftime leading the Grizzlies, 35-28.
LeMar paced NDSU in the opening half, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. She was a perfect 2-for-2 beyond the arc.
Hill led the Grizzles, scoring 13 points.
NDSU was 13-of-29 (45 percent) from the field, 5-of-11 (46 percent) from three and 4-of-5 (80 percent) from the free throw line in the first half.
Montana made 10-of-29 shots from the field in the half, for 35 percent. The Griz were 4-of-10 (40 percent) from three and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
NDSU out-rebounded Montana, 20-15.
The second half saw the Grizzlies score the first five points of the half to pull within 35-33 of the Bison lead, but a Miki Stephenson jumper with 17:45 on the clock extended the NDSU lead back to two possessions, 37-33.
Montana again closed the NDSU lead to just two, 45-43, with 12:42 remaining in the stanza, but, again, the Bison answered, extending their lead back to seven after a trey from Kahla Becken with 11:47 to go.
The NDSU lead grew to 13 after a layup from Holly Johnson with 5:31 on the clock and increased to 14 when Stephenson drilled a three with 2:19 remaining in the half.
The Bison made 5-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes of the half, sealing the 17 point victory.
LeMar and Stephenson paced NDSU in the game, scoring 21 and 13 points. Stephenson also led the Bison on the glass, pulling down a career-best nine boards. The 21 points from LeMar marked the third consecutive contest she scored at least 20 points.
Hill scored 18 points to lead the Grizzlies scoring efforts in the game.
The Bison controlled the glass, out-rebounding the Griz, 47-34. NDSU also had nine steals in the game.
NDSU was 23-of-57 (40 percent) from the field, 8-of-14 (57 percent) from three and 16-of-19 (84 percent) from the charity stripe in the contest.
Montana shot 20-of-65 (31 percent) from the field but were only 8-of-23 (35 percent) from three. The Grizzlies made 5-of-8 free throws (63 percent).
With the win, NDSU snaps its four game losing streak and improves to 2-4 overall, while Montana falls to 3-1.
The Bison return to action Saturday, Nov. 30, in the championship game of the DoubleTree LA Westside Thanksgiving Classic and will face either Loyola Marymount or UC Irvine at approximately 5 p.m. CT inside Gersten Pavilion.
Airtime on KVOX 740-AM "The Fan" with Jack Michaels calling the action is approx. 4:40 p.m. CT.