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Eric Peterson, Published November 05 2012

Bison knock off Dragons in exhibition play

FARGO – A freshman from Minot, N.D., showed she could be a factor for North Dakota State in her first season.

Holly Johnson scored 15 points Monday night at the Bison Sports Arena. Johnson’s effort helped the Bison earn an 83-65 victory against Minnesota State Moorhead in exhibition women’s basketball.

“The kid just plays confident,” Bison head coach Carolyn DeHoff said. “She just finds a way to score. She’s got really nice footwork, one of the better kids with her back to the basket.”

NDSU, an NCAA Division I program, won both its exhibition games against Division II opponents. The Bison scored a 68-65 win against Minnesota-Crookston last Thursday.

The Dragons, who were playing their first and only exhibition game, jumped to an early 10-point lead Monday. MSUM was within two points of the lead in the second half before the Bison pulled away late.

“I felt like once they made a run, we kind of stepped back and lost a little bit of that spark,” said Dragons senior Marisa Yernatich, who scored a team-high 12 points.

The Dragons cut the Bison lead to 51-49 with 14 minutes, 3 seconds to play in the second half after Morgan Zabel drained a 3-pointer. NDSU countered with the next eight points to take control. Johnson scored one basket during that stretch. A Hannah Linz basket gave the Bison a 59-49 lead with 10:43 remaining.

“After halftime we just wanted to come out and we wanted to show what Bison basketball is all about,” said Johnson, who made 7 of 12 shots from the field. “Against Crookston, we didn’t play our best. … I think we finished really well.”

Dani DeGagne paced the Bison with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field. NDSU shot 55 percent (18 of 33) from the floor in the second half.

“I like our urgency on the defensive end and I like the way we settled down, offensively,” said DeHoff, whose team opens the regular season at home at 5 p.m. Friday against Harvard.

The Dragons jumped to an early double-digit lead Monday, draining three 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the first half. MSUM took a 14-4 lead after junior forward Megan Strese sank two fouls shots with 16:07 remaining in the opening half.

“We started out the game really strong,” Yernatich said. “We hit some shots, which gave us confidence. We had a lot of energy.”

The Bison rallied late in the first half with a run of eight consecutive points. NDSU took a 31-29 lead after sophomore guard Jamie Van Kirk sank two technical free throws. The technical foul was called on the MSUM bench. DeGagne scored off a rebound with seven seconds to play to give NDSU a 40-35 lead heading into halftime.

The Dragons, who have nine freshmen on their 15-player roster, open their regular season at Valley City State on Friday.

“We have a lot of freshmen, we just have to mature as a team,” Yernatich said. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction. We just have to keep working hard in practice.”

MSUM: M. Strese 3-10 4-5 10, Handevidt 2-7 2-2 7, Noreen 0-2 0-0 0, Charette 2-5 1-2 7, Yernatich 4-11 0-0 12, Roehrich 0-2 1-2 1, Thomforde 3-7 1-2 8, Boegeman 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 2-2 3-4 7, Zabel 3-5 3-4 10, Hebert 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 20-54 16-23 65.

NDSU: Johnson 7-12 0-1 15, Whittle 4-11 0-0 9, Birkel 3-9 0-0 6, Linz 4-5 0-0 8, Van Kirk 3-6 6-6 13, DeGagne 6-9 4-7 17, Becken 2-6 2-4 7, Keena 1-5 0-0 2, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Browning 2-3 0-0 4, Gaines 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 33-71 12-18 83.

Half: NDSU 40, MSUM 35. 3-point goals: MSUM 9-23 (Strese 0-1, Handevidt 1-2, Noreen 0-1, Charette 2-4, Yernatich 4-9, Roehrich 0-2, Thomforde 1-2, Zabel 1-2), NDSU 5-21 (Johnson 1-3, Whittle 1-3, Birkel 0-3, Linz 0-1, Van Kirk 1-2, DeGagne 1-2, Becken 1-4). Total fouls: MSUM 20, NDSU 19. Technical foul: MSUM bench. Rebounds: MSUM 39 (Strese 9), NDSU 42 (Whittle 11). Assists: MSUM 14 (Charette 4), NDSU 16 (Birkel 7). Steals: MSUM 3 (Zabel 2), NDSU 9 (Birkel 3). Turnovers: MSUM 17 (Thomforde 4), NDSU 6 (six players with 1).

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

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