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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published December 14 2013

Buck scores 37 points as UND tops NDSU in women's basketball

GRAND FORKS – With less than six minutes to play, the University of North Dakota trailed rival North Dakota State by eight points.

UND didn’t need a complex plan to make a final charge at the Bison. All UND needed was Madi Buck to take over.

And Buck took over, turning in one of the more memorable performances in the UND-NDSU rivalry. The senior from Bismarck scored a career-high 37 points and dominated the final minutes on both ends of the court to lead North Dakota to an 88-83 win against NDSU on Saturday before 2,261 fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

“That’s how players become legendary,” UND coach Travis Brewster said. “People will talk about Madi scoring 37 points against NDSU in her senior year.”

The 6-foot forward, however, was at her best after UND trailed 77-69 with less than six minutes to play. Buck scored 11 of UND’s final 19 points, and her 3-pointer with 1:27 to go broke an 81-81 tie.

“She was playing one-on-five and still scoring,” said NDSU coach Carolyn DeHoff.

The Bison, however, cut UND’s lead to one on Brooke LeMar’s layup with 40 seconds to go, but Buck responded with 21 seconds left and capped the win with two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.

She scored 26 of her points in the second half and also finished with nine rebounds, a handful down the stretch when UND needed stops and boards.

“The kid just finds a way. She gets herself to the free-throw line by attacking,” said DeHoff. “She can shoot the 3. She can attack you off the dribble. When you’re that type of player, it puts pressure on you defensively.”

Buck said the win was big for two reasons: It’s a rivalry game, and it also helped take the sting out of last week’s two-point UND loss at Minnesota, where North Dakota lost a 16-point second-half lead.

“It was an important game because of the rivalry and the tradition behind it,” Buck said. “But we can learn from this game, too. It was the little things, like giving them second chances at rebounds and losing shooters on defense. We need to improve on those things. We’re glad to get the win, but we have to improve.”

UND connected at 46 percent of its shots from the field and NDSU was at 48 percent. Both shot the 3-pointer well, and the teams finished with a combined 22 turnovers, 12 by NDSU.

No more than nine points separated the teams. UND led by nine in the first half, but the Bison – led by Marina Whittle (23 points), Holly Johnson (17) and Miki Stephenson (11) –rallied in the final four minutes of the first half to take a 43-41 lead at the break.

NDSU took control early in the second half, stretching its two-point lead to eight before Buck took over.

NDSU (3-7): LeMar 5-16 0-0 10, Johnson 7-13 1-2 17, Whatman 3-5 0-0 7, Whittle 9-17 2-2 23, Stephenson 5-10 2-2 13, Becken 4-7 2-2 11, Keena 0-1 0-0 0, Breske 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 33-69 9-10 83.

UND (4-3): Szabla 4-6 4-6 13, Loyd 5-16 3-3 13, Buck 10-15 12-14 37, Knox 1-4 0-0 3, Wall 5-9 1-1 11, Burck 2-7 0-0 5, Dillon 0-1 0-0 0, Evers 3-5 0-0 6, Houdek 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 30-66 20-24 88.

Half: NDSU 43, UND 41. 3-point goals: NDSU 8-20 (Whittle 3-5, Johnson 2-5, Stephenson 1-4, Becken 1-3, Whatman 1-2, LeMar 0-1), UND 8-16 (Buck 5-6, Burck 1-5, Knox 1-2, Szabla 1-1, Loyd 0-1, Dillon 0-1). Total fouls: NDSU 17, UND 11. Rebounds: NDSU 36 (Stephenson 8), UND 38 (Buck 9). Assists: NDSU 14 (LeMar 8), UND 21 (Szabla 9). Steals: NDSU 4 (Stephenson 2), UND 9 (Buck, Knox 3). Turnovers: NDSU 12, UND 10. A: 2,261.

Nelson writes for the Grand Forks Herald