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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 09 2011

Plucker's career night carries Bison women's basketball team past Centenary

Put aside the fact Centenary College (La.) is winless in women’s basketball this season. Forget, for a minute, that the Ladies are moving to NCAA Division III next season.

Abby Plucker was a genius on the court Saturday night. The North Dakota State junior forward showed why she’s one of the top rebounders in the country, finishing with 16 boards, and that was just part of it.

She had a career-high 27 points in leading the Bison to a 94-55 Summit League victory before 1,815 fans at the Bison Sports Arena. Plucker hit 7 of 8 field goals, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and hit all nine of her free throws.

It was a near-perfect performance.

“We were excited to be back home,” Plucker said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement before playing Oral Roberts on Monday.”

It was the eighth time this year she’s hit double figures in rebounds and the fourth time she’s had a double-double, which is double figures in scoring and rebounding.

For a while, Plucker was threatening a 20-20 – at least 20 points and 20 rebounds – but she didn’t play much in the last 10 minutes because of the blowout.

The last NDSU player with at least 20 rebounds was Michelle Fricke in 2004 against Wingate (N.C.) when she had 20.

“That’s OK, I honestly don’t think about it when I’m out there,” Plucker said. “As long as we win, I’m ecstatic.”

Plucker came into the weekend 24th nationally in rebounding at 10.0 per game. She’s led the team in rebounding in all 14 games. It’s quite the turnaround from her first two full seasons, where she averaged 3.0 rebounds as a freshman and 4.5 as a sophomore.

“I’ve tried to make an effort to value every possession and finish every possession,” she said.

Plucker took a medical hardship two years ago to repair an injured shoulder, which she said has been a mental boost knowing it’s strong enough to hold up in Division I ball.

“Just probably having confidence in that shoulder,” NDSU head coach Carolyn DeHoff said, in explaining Plucker’s rebounding. “She can go in there with contact and try to rip it out and I think that has a lot to do with it. She’s also a kid with the mindset that if she doesn’t shoot it, she’s going to go get it.”

The Ladies were respectable in the first half, hitting 6 of 9 3-pointers, but still trailed 46-32. With just eight players, there wasn’t much answer for them on the defensive end.

Sophomore Janae Burich added 18 points and six rebounds, hitting 8 of 10 field goals. The Bison outrebounded the Ladies 51-28.

NDSU will turn its attention today for Monday’s game against Oral Roberts, which leads the league at 5-0 after defeating South Dakota State 77-62 Saturday.

“It’s a big game,” DeHoff said. “We have to prepare offensively and defensively. But the kids also have the confidence having played them well in recent years.”

CENTENARY (0-12, 0-5 Summit): Jackson 2-6 2-4 6, Sanders 0-0 1-2 1, Vidovic 3-5 0-0 9, Cook 4-21 4-6 12, Daniel 5-7 0-0 14, Farrell 1-4 0-0 2, Weiler 1-8 3-4 5. Totals: 18-56 12-19 55.

NDSU (7-7, 3-1 Summit): Plucker 7-8 9-9 27, Trecker , Burich 8-10 2-4 18, DeGagne 4-10 1-2 9, Birkel 5-10 2-4 12, Peltier 2-5 0-0 4, Shea 1-4 0-2 2, Linz 2-8 0-0 5, Lako 0-0 0-1 0, Stephenson 4-6 0-0 8. Totals: 37-68 15-25 94.

Halftime: NDSU 46, CC 32. Total fouls: CC 20, NDSU 17. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: CC 28 (Jackson 9); NDSU 51 (Plucker 16). 3-point goals: CC 7-12 (Vidovic 3-3, Cook 0-4, Daniel 4-5); NDSU 5-18 (Plucker 4-5, Trecker 0-2, DeGagne 0-1, Birkel 0-2, Linz 1-6, Stephenson 0-1). Assists: CC 11 (Cook 4); NDSU 19 (Shea, Linz 4). Turnovers: CC 17 (Cook 8); NDSU 11 (Peltier 3). A-1,815.

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