FARGO, N.D. - Western Illinois women's basketball withstood the second half comeback effort made by North Dakota State to record its first ever win over the Bison in Fargo, N.D. 85-83. The win moves the Leathernecks to 10-8 overall and 3-3 in Summit League play, while the Bison drop to 7-12 overall and 3-4 in the league.
"It was a really good team win," JD Gravina said. "To be 3-3 in conference when we've played five of six on the road is tremendous. (North Dakota State) doesn't lose here very often so to come away with a win is pretty important."
After finding themselves trailing 12-5 in the first half after a slow start, the Leatherneck offense came alive with a 15-0 run spanning nearly four minutes. A total of four scored during the stretch for Western that included two threes made by Saule Kontautaite and one three from Charnelle Reed.
Western remained hot throughout the first half shooting 62.1 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from three-point range. Six team members netted points in the first 20 minutes with Kontautaite and Reed reaching double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Leathernecks returned to the court and scored 13 points within the first four minutes of play to four from the Bison stretching their lead to a game-high 25 points. From there, North Dakota State clawed its way back into the contest using five three-pointers and several scoring runs to cut Western's lead to three points with 30 seconds left to play.
With the possession arrow favoring the Leathernecks, NDSU opted to foul and a missed free throw granted them a chance to tie it up with a three. Jamie Van Kirk attempted the three-pointer, but was denied by a huge Rebecca Henricson block, just her fourth of the season.
The ricochet went out of bounds and gave the Bison a final chance to tie the game. On the play, Van Kirk recorded a layup to make it a one-point contest then fouled Michele Salvatori on the inbounds pass.
Salvatori went to the line and made the first free throw and missed the second to make it 85-83 Leathernecks with 12 seconds on the clock. The Bison missed two jumpers in the final seconds of the game and Western went on to solidify the final 85-83 victory.
Kontautaite lit up the scoreboard for Western posting new career-high marks with 30 points and tying a Western single-game record hitting seven 3-pointers in the game, following a zero point performance against South Dakota State on Thursday (Jan. 17). Joining her in double figures were Reed (14 points), Ashley Luke (11 points) and Jackie Rieger (10 points). Rieger has now matched her season-high mark of 10 points for the fourth time this season.
Henricson dished out a career-high 11 assists, four more than her previous mark of seven, while Rieger pulled down a squad-leading and new season-high nine rebounds.
Western shot 57.6 percent overall from the floor, 52.4 percent from long range and 40 percent from the free throw line, while North Dakota State was 51.6 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from beyond the arc and 62.5 percent from the charity stripe.
The Leathernecks are back in action at Western Hall in Macomb on Thursday (Jan. 24) against South Dakota and Saturday (Jan. 26) against Kansas City. The contests are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.