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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 30 2009

College women's basketball: NDSU dumps Denver

North Dakota State happily passed the women’s basketball turnover germ on to somebody else on Sunday afternoon.

The Bison held Denver University to just one field goal in a span of six minutes in the second half and took advantage in a

62-50 victory at the Bison Sports Arena. It was the second straight win for NDSU, 3-3, heading into Summit League play next weekend.

It was a battle of halfcourt offenses and the Bison had the better of it, forcing the Pioneers into 26 turnovers. In an odd statistic, NDSU had just two fastbreak points and that didn’t come until the final five minutes.

But the Bison almost set a school record sinking 19 of 20 free throws, not missing until the 19th attempt.

“When you have a game that is close and when it comes down to free throws, that’s a dagger into the other team,” said Bison center Jill Zaruba.

Denver, meanwhile, shot 54 percent – 58 percent in the second half – held NDSU to just 35 percent shooting and lost.

“To shoot 58 percent in the second half and get our doors blown off …” said Denver head coach Erik Johnson. “Give them credit. They pressured us and they forced us into a different tempo.”

The Pioneers prefer a little more speed, Johnson said. But NDSU cut the 94 feet of the court in half, settling most of the game for a motion offense against a dwindling 30-second shot clock.

Part of it was a half court pressure zone defense by the Pioneers, which consistently slowed the NDSU attack to a crawl. The Bison tried the 3-point route in the first half, but sank only 4 of 15 attempts.

“The kids understand we were getting good shots,” said NDSU head coach Carolyn DeHoff. “It came down to putting the clamps down on defense. The 26 turnovers were huge for us.”

They went the interior route in the second half with a little more success. Eight points by the 6-2 Zaruba in a four-minute span earned the Bison their biggest lead at 41-35 with 10:13 remaining.

Later, Ashley Samuelson’s inside hoop made it an eight-point lead with 8:35 left. For the most part, that advantage held up.

“It worked to our advantage,” Zaruba said. “We’ve been working on our half-court offense and being patient.”

DENVER (1-3): Robinson 3-4 2-2 8, Murdoch 7-10 0-1 14, Culberson 3-4 3-3 1610, Rice 6-11 4-4 , Smith 1-4 0-0 2, Palmere 0-1 0-1 0, Feeney 0-3 0-0 0, Jasperson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-37 9-11 50.

NDSU (3-3): Samuelson 3-8 4-4 10, Plucker 2-11 4-4 8, Zaruba 3-6 6-6 12, Birkel 2-7 2-2 7, Hodgson 4-10 3-4 13, DeGagne 2-4 0-0 4, Linz 2-3 0-0 6, Trecker 1-5 0-0 2, Vigil 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-55 19-20 62.

Halftime: DU 25, NDSU 24. Total fouls: DU 12, NDSU 13. Fouled out: Zaruba. Rebounds: DU 27 (Culberson 9); NDSU 28 (Trecker 6). 3-point goals: DU 1-5 (Rice 0-3, Palmere 0-1, Culberson 1-1); NDSU 5-20 (Samuelson 0-1, Plucker 0-5, Birkel 1-2, Hodgson 2-7, Linz 2-3, Trecker 0-2). Assists: DU 12 (Smith 4); NDSU 13 (Hodgson 5). Turnovers: DU 26 (Culberson 9); NDSU 12 (Plucker 3). A–743.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546