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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 11 2009

Winning wounded: Bison women lose another player, yet claim victory

The roster devil threw another setback at the North Dakota State women’s basketball team. This time, guard Nicole Vigil went down with an apparent season-ending knee injury Saturday against Western Illinois.

The Bison, down to seven players, withstood that thought and held off the Westerwinds 52-46 before 1,576 fans at the Bison Sports Arena. NDSU remained tied atop The Summit League standings at

4-1 heading into Monday’s game against IUPUI.

The Bison may have to do it with a small bench. And when guard Inger Hodgson spent a few seconds in apparent ankle pain late in the game, all looked chaotic for the Bison.

“A little nerve-wracking,” Hodgson said. “But we come together in close games.”

Hodgson walked it off. And the Bison survived a chaotic last minute that saw three Bison turnovers and two missed shots and one turnover by WIU.

“I have to compliment the heart of this team,” said head coach Carolyn DeHoff. “Whoever is left, it’s about this group and staying together and gutting it out.”

Two free throws by NDSU center Jill Zaruba made it

50-45 with 23 seconds left. After the Westerwinds’ Nicole Myers made one of two free throws, it took WIU nine seconds to foul Hodgson and her two free throws with 5 seconds left iced it.

“We’re not going to get anything easy,” Hodgson said.

Vigil went down with 13 minutes left in the game after hitting the floor away from the ball. Bison guard Whitney Trecker thought she was trying to go for the ball and tripped over another player.

“It was non-contact and her whole knee just went,” Hodgson said. “It didn’t look good.”

DeHoff said tears in a time-out huddle followed. The Bison then saw a double-digit lead cut to 48-45 with 1:31 remaining. The Westerwinds had two chances to slice it further, but missed two shots.

“Not good,” DeHoff said of Vigil’s knee, saying it probably is an ACL tear. “It’s the same knee she hurt coming out of high school. No doubt that injury affected these kids.”

WIU (4-11, 2-2 Summit): Myers 2-6 1-3 5, Lord 1-4 1-2 3, Walker 2-10 0-0 5, Clark 5-11 1-2 13, O’Brien 1-6 2-2 5, Horsman 3-7 2-2 9, Kodde 0-6 0-1 0, Borgertpoepping 0-2 0-0 0, Thorman 3-5 0-0 7. Totals: 17-57 7-12 46.

NDSU (6-7, 4-1): Zaruba 2-4 2-2 6, Trecker 5-9 1-4 13, Penley 2-2 1-4 5, Birkel 0-4 2-2 2, Hodgson 4-11 7-8 17, Vigil 2-7 0-0 5, Samuelson 1-1 0-0 2, Smith 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 17-41 13-20 52.

Halftime: NDSU 26, WIU 13. Total fouls: WIU 20, SU 17. Fouled out: none. Technical foul: WIU bench. Rebounds: WIU 36 (Thorman 7); NDSU 31 (Penley 9). 3-point goals: WIU 5-18 (Walker 1-5, Clark 2-4, O’Brien 1-3, Kodde )0-4, Horsman 1-2; NDSU 5-16 (Trecker 2-5, Birkel 0-1, Hodgson 2-5, Vigil 1-5). Turnovers: WIU 15 (Walker 4); NDSU 19 (Four with 3). Assists: WIU 9 (Walker, Borgertroepping 3); NDSU 7 (seven with 1). A–1,576.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com