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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 16 2010

Women's basketball: Taking two WACs, DeGagne’s 22 leads Bison over Utah State

Two Western Athletic Conference opponents, two wins and two similar performances for the North Dakota State women’s basketball team.

And one big find in the starting lineup.

Sophomore Danielle DeGagne, the ninth player on the team last year in terms of minutes played, scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Bison over Utah State on Monday night.

The 86-64 victory before 848 fans at the Bison Sports Arena moved NDSU to 2-0.

“I think we learned that we have a lot of potential,” said NDSU forward Abby Plucker. “If we clean up some things, I think we’ll be a pretty good team in our league.”

NDSU of the Summit League was pretty good against the WAC, following Friday’s 88-79 win over New Mexico State with a convincing performance on Monday.

Last season, DeGagne averaged 3.1 points and was 1 of 11 from 3-point range in 29 games, all off the bench.

She was 3 of 3 from that distance against Utah State. In two games, she’s hit 14 of 23 field goals and has averaged 17.5 points. She has taken the job opening that NDSU head coach Carolyn DeHoff put out at power forward and has flourished with it.

“She’s always had the ability,” DeHoff said. “She’s just learning to play into the system. She understands that to stay on the floor, she has to defend.”

As ordinary as the Bison looked in their two exhibition games, they picked it up once they started playing for real. They shot 52 percent against Utah State that included 9 of 20 from 3-point range.

The Aggies, meanwhile, hit 2 of 16 3-pointers.

“We shot miserably from 3-point range and we shot miserably with players that we trust,” said Utah State head coach Raegan Pebley. “They just didn’t hit their shots.”

Whatever the Bison are doing to get ready for a game, they should bottle it and use it all season.

They almost buried New Mexico State in the first half on Friday night.

Against Utah State, they were 16-4 with 13 minutes left in the first half.

“We have a good collective energy going before the start of a game,” Plucker said.

It was 37-27 at halftime and the Bison pushed the advantage to 45-30 in the first three minutes of the second half.

That’s when the Aggies got 6-foot-6 center Banna Diop involved in the offense. The biggest difference, however, was an extended 2-3 trapping zone defense that had the Bison puzzled.

A pair of three-point field goals by Hannah Linz and one by DeGagne survived an 11-3 Utah State run. Then, leading 53-49, NSDU responded by scoring 14 of the next 16 points.

DeGagne started it with a trey and added another after Janae Burich scored two field goals within a couple of seconds. Her second came after she grabbed her own missed free throw and scored, making it 60-49.

Plucker finished with 16 points and Burich 13 points. Both just missed a double-double with nine rebounds each. Plucker flirted with a triple-double, adding a career-high eight assists.

“We’re doing all the little things that make a difference,” she said.

USU (0-2): Howard 1-3 0-0 2, White 5-11 2-2 13, Diop 5-10 2-3 12, Johnson 2-3 0-0 4, Coddington 2-5 0-1 4, Pringle-Buchanan 1-4 0-0 2, Christensen 0-7 2-2 2, Brown 8-10 4-6 20, Furtado 1-2 0-0 2, Plunkett 0-5 0-0 0, Burns 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 26-63 10-14 64.

NDSU (2-0): Plucker 5-12 5-7 16, Burich 6-9 1-3 13, DeGagne 8-15 3-4 22, Birkel 5-9 0-0 11, Trecker 3-3 2-2 8, Peltier 1-2 0-0 3, Shea 1-2 0-0 2, Linz 4-9 0-0 11, Stephenson 0-2 0-1 0. Totals: 33-63 11-17 86.

Halftime: NDSU 37, USU 27. Total fouls: USU 18, NDSU 14. Fouled out: Pringle-Buchanan. Rebounds: USU 37 (White 6); NDSU 39 (Plucker, Burich 9). 3-point goals: USU 2-16 (White 1-1, Diop 0-2, Coddington 0-2, Pringle-Buchanan 0-2, Christensen 0-5, Furtado 0-1, Plunkett 0-1, Burns 1-2); NDSU 9-20 (Plucker 1-3, Birkel 1-4, DeGagne 3-3, Peltier 1-2, Linz 3-8). Assists: USU 13 (Coddington 7); NDSU 21 (Plucker 8). Turnovers: USU 18 (White 4); NDSU 12 (Plucker 5). A–848.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia