FARGO, N.D. (NDSU Athletics) -- The North Dakota State women's basketball team scored the final eight points of the game Friday night, as the Bison beat Western Illinois 68-60 at the Scheels Center.
Most of the first quarter was back and forth until the Leathernecks took an 11-7 lead with 4:37 to play in the quarter, the largest lead for either team at the time. A 3-pointer by Tyrah Spencer with 2:54 left started a 10-0 run by the Bison to close the quarter, taking a 17-11 lead on a jumper by Sofija Zivaljevic with :45 left in the frame.
Michelle Gaislerova extended the run to 13-0 with a 3-pointer early in the second quarter, as the Bison took a 20-11 lead. NDSU led 28-21 with 4:00 left in the first half on a jumper in the lane by Gaislerova, but Western Illinois ended the half on a 14-2 run to take a 35-30 lead into halftime.
A layup by Taylor Higginbotham started the second half scoring for the Leathernecks, but the Bison answered with a 9-0 run over a 3:22 span, as Gaislerova gave the Bison a 39-37 lead with 6:09 left in the third quarter on a jumper in the lane. Western Illinois again had an answer, going on a 10-4 run in a 2:15 span to take a 47-43 lead with 2:47 to play in the quarter. The Bison scored the final six points of the third quarter, as a layup by Zivaljevic with :02 left in the quarter gave NDSU a 49-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back baskets by Gaislerova gave NDSU a 57-52 lead with 6:52 to play. The Leathernecks went on an 8-3 run in the next 2:21 to tie the game at 60-60 with 3:45 to play. A 3-pointer by Gaislerova with 3:14 left gave the Bison the lead for good, as NDSU scored the final eight points in the 68-60 victory.
Gaislerova led the Bison with a game-high 29 points, one shy of her career-high from earlier this year against Northern Illinois. It was the 30th career double-digit game for Gaislerova and the fifth of 20 points or more. Spencer added nine points, while Zivaljevic had eight off the bench. Higginbotham led the Leathernecks with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Emily Dietz led the Bison with nine rebounds, while Rylee Nudell, Gaislerova and Spencer each had six boards, tying a career-high for Gaislerova. Zivaljevic had a career-high four assists, while Spencer added three assists and two blocked shots.
NDSU was 27-of-53 (50.9%) from the field and 7-of-18 (38.9%) from beyond the arc. The Leathernecks were 23-of-68 (33.8%) from the floor and 8-of-26 (30.8%) from downtown. The Bison were 7-of-9 (77.8%) at the free throw line, while Western Illinois was 6-of-9 at the charity stripe. The Leathernecks had a 22-4 advantage in points off turnovers, while NDSU held a 15-6 edge in bench points.
The Bison return to action on Thursday, Jan. 17 at Denver.