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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 08 2010

Women's basketball: Late OT basket dooms NDSU

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – It was one of the most well-played women’s basketball games in recent years for North Dakota State. That was of little consolation for the Bison, however, as they left Sioux Falls Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Missouri-Kansas City guard LeAndrea Thomas’ driving basket with 1.4 seconds left in overtime gave the Kangaroos a 76-75 win in the quarterfinals of The Summit League tournament.

It left NDSU one-and-done in its bid to make the NCAA tournament.

“I feel bad for our seniors and collectively for the group,” said NDSU head coach Carolyn DeHoff. “In one respect, I’m sickened by the loss but we understand the kids left everything on the floor. It’s tough to swallow.”

It came down to one of those ESPN last-second moments. Bison guard Katie Birkel made 1 of 2 free throws with seven seconds left. After she sank the second, Thomas took the inbounds pass and drove the length of the court for her only bucket all game.

“I didn’t have a good game and I wanted to make up for all my mistakes,” she said.

The Bison, with one second left and the ball underneath the UMKC basket, almost pulled off a minor miracle. Abby Plucker grabbed Jill Zaruba’s pass between half court and the NDSU basket and her desperation shot hit the back rim and bounced away.

“Players on both sides making plays,” DeHoff said.

UMKC’s Chazny Morris made the most. NDSU’s defensive plan was to face guard her and not let her get the ball.

It didn’t work. She had 30 points and tied a tournament record with seven 3-point field goals – a couple of them around the NBA D-League arc at the Sioux Falls Arena.

“Wherever she wants,” UMKC head coach Candace Whitaker said of Morris’ shooting range. “She has the green light. She’s a senior, she’s playing with urgency and she can shoot it in the NBA range.”

NDSU will look back at another 3-pointer as a turning point. Leading 72-68 in overtime, the Bison narrowly missed two chances to make it a six-point lead.

On the other end, Heather Davis banked in a 3 from the wing with 1:48 left to cut NDSU’s lead to 72-71.

“We felt good, we got up four points and the kid banks in a 3,” Birkel said. “It was big, maybe not the biggest shot. It was a hard-fought game.”

After Zaruba’s 18th point of the game, a medium-range jumper, Morris tied it at 74-74 with a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left.

NDSU worked the clock and Birkel was fouled going to the basket.

“It’s something she’ll take and build on for next year,” DeHoff said.

The Kangaroos finished 11 of 21 from 3-point range. NDSU’s only statistical struggle was 3 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Otherwise, the Bison came up one play short of advancing to the semifinals. They finished 16-13.

“If you’re going to go out, you might as well go out in overtime playing well,” Zaruba said. “We left it all out there on the floor.”

NDSU (16-13): Samuelson 4-9 0-0 8, Burich 2-6 0-0 4, Birkel 6-20 5-7 17, Hodgson 5-8 2-2 15, Trecker 1-4 0-1 2, DeGagne 0-0 0-0 0, Vigil 0-0 0-0 0, Plucker 2-6 7-10 11, Zaruba 7-13 4-7 18. Totals: 27-66 18-27 75.

UMKC (16-14): Nezianya 3-5 1-4 8, Davis 0-2 0-0 0, Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Eldridge 1-4 2-2 5, Morris 11-20 1-2 30, Davis 1-1 0-0 3, Hall-Jones 3-10 2-4 9, Tinner 4-5 2-2 10, Bridges 1-1 1-2 3, Broyles 3-5 0-3 6. Totals: 28-55 9-19 76.

Halftime: UMKC 32, NDSU 28. Total fouls: NDSU 17, UMKC 23. Fouled out: Samuelson. Rebounds: NDSU 41 (Plucker 8); UMKC 35 (Eldridge 7). 3-point goals: NDSU 3-16 (Samuelson 0-3, Birkel 0-6, Hodgson 3-3, Trecker 0-1, Plucker 0-3). Assists: NDSU 10 (Birkel 3); UMKC 15 (Hall-Jones 8). Turnovers: NDSU 11 (Samuelson 3); UMKC 14 (Morris, Boyles 4).

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Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546