The North Dakota State women's basketball team (4-14, 1-3 Summit) used a strong second half to snap a 10-game losing skid and pick-up an 83-77 victory at Western Illinois (9-9, 1-2 Summit) Saturday afternoon inside Western Hall in Macomb.
Miki Stephenson began the big second half rally for the Bison, converting a layup 17 seconds into the stanza to give NDSU its first lead since early in the first half, 30-29.
Western Illinois battled back though, regaining a two-point lead twice, before Stephenson drained a jumper to knot the contest at 45 with 11:18 to go in the second half. A layup from Holly Johnson three minutes later gave the Bison the lead for good, 54-52.
NDSU's lead grew to 10 after Brooke LeMar sank a pair of free throws at the 3:59 mark and the Bison hit key free throws down the stretch to ice the 83-77 victory.
The Bison outscored the Leathernecks in the second stanza, 55-48.
LeMar led four Bison in double figures with 21 points, marking the sixth time this season the Canyon Country, Calif., native has eclipsed 20 points in a game. Marena Whittle scored 19 points while Johnson and Alisa Brown had 13 each. Brown's 13 points is a new career-high.
NDSU was 30-for-67 (45 percent) from the field and 10-for-25 (40 percent) from three in the game. The Bison made 13 of 18 free throws attempted for 72 percent.
Ashley Luke was the top scorer and rebounder for WIU with a game-high 27 points and 13 boards.
NDSU fell behind early in the first half, 4-0, but jumpers from Marena Whittle and LeMar tied the game at four with 17:49 to go. LeMar drilled a three at the 17:14 mark to give the Bison their first lead of the game, 7-6.
Western Illinois was able to regain a five-point lead, 26-21, after a layup from Ashley Luke with 1:41 remaining in the opening stanza, but the Bison closed the half on a 7-2 spurt, capped-off by a layup from Brittany Wiebe at the buzzer, to go into halftime trailing the Leathernecks, 29-28.
With the victory, the Bison improve to 4-14 overall and 1-3 in Summit League play while Western Illinois drops to 9-9 and 1-2 in league action.
NDSU will step out of Summit League play for its next game, Wednesday, Jan. 22, when it hosts Valley City State (N.D.) at the Bison Sports Arena at 7 p.m.