NDSU women's basketball (3-4) defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters (4-3), 64-61, to capture the DoubleTree LA Westside Thanksgiving Classic Championship Saturday, Nov. 30, at Gersten Pavilion on the Loyola Marymount campus.
The Bison found themselves down, 5-0, early in the first half after the Anteaters scored five consecutive points to begin the game.
NDSU countered and tied the game at five, though, after a jumper from Marena Whittle and three-pointer courtesy of Miki Stephenson with 17:47 remaining in the half.
UC Irvine regained a five-point advantage, 13-8, after Camille Buckley made a layup, was fouled and made the bonus free throw with 16:11 on the clock.
The Bison responded again, knotting the game at 13 when Brooke LeMar made a pair of free throws. NDSU gained its first lead of the game, 15-13, after Emily Spier sank a layup with 14:02 remaining in the opening stanza.
NDSU would not trail the rest of the half, going into halftime with a 26-24 lead.
Whittle and Stephenson led NDSU in the first half, scoring seven points each. Buckley paced the Anteaters with seven first half points.
NDSU was 10-for-30 (33 percent) from the field, 3-for-9 (33 percent) from three and 3-for-4 (75 percent) from the free throw line in the half. UC Irvine shot 9-for-34 (27 percent) from the field, 2-for-9 (22 percent) from beyond the arc and made 4-of-7 (57 percent) from the charity stripe in the stanza.
The Bison fell behind 29-26 with 18:40 remaining in the second half after a three from the Anteaters' Lauren Spinazze.
NDSU tied the game at 36 with 12:22 on the clock after a pair of free throws from Kahla Becken.
The Bison regained a 40-39 lead after LeMar made two free throws with 9:57 remaining.
NDSU maintained the advantage until the last minute of the game, when the Anteaters' Kelly Meggs nailed a three with 20 seconds remaining on the clock to tie the game at 61.
The Bison responded though, winning the game on a three with 14 seconds remaining courtesy of Becken.
The Bison were led in scoring by Stephenson and Whittle with 14 points each. Becken also reached double figures, scoring 12. Whittle led NDSU on the glass, snagging nine rebounds. Buckley paced the Anteaters, scoring a game-high 15 points.
The Bison were 21-of-53 (40 percent) from the field and 8-of-17 (47 percent) from beyond the arc. NDSU made 14-of-18 free throws in the game for 78 percent. UCI made 20-of-65 shots from the field in the game for 31 percent and were 7-of-21 (33 percent) from long range). The Anteaters made 64 percent of their free throws, going 14-for-22 at the line.
With the win, NDSU moves to 3-4 overall while UC Irvine falls to 4-3.
Stephenson and LeMar were both named to the All-Tournament team, along with UC Irvine's Buckley and Jennifer Tsurumoto, Loyola Marymount's Sophie Taylor and Montana's Torry Hill.
The Bison return to action Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7, when they travel to Colorado Springs to participate in the Air Force Classic.