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Dickinson State women sink big buckets to earn first conference victory

Press Photo by Dustin Monke Dickinson State junior Mariah Duran, left, pushes the ball inside the 3-point line while being defended by Montana Western sophomore Kelsey Callaghan on Saturday afternoon during a Frontier Conference women's basketball game at Scott Gymnasium.

In desperate need of some home cookin' after losing its first six Frontier Conference games -- four by eight points or less -- the Dickinson State women's basketball team got a result that has been brewing for a long time.

The Blue Hawks hit 3-pointers and free throws down the stretch and senior Yianna Nadeau scored nine of her game-high 18 points in the final 4 minutes to help hold off Montana Western 71-63 for the team's first-ever Frontier victory Saturday afternoon at Scott Gymnasium.

"It's just been those little things that we had to take care of," said Nadeau, who was the catalyst down the stretch. "At the end of the game, you just say, 'It was the little things.' Now we know what it's like when you do the little things and you come away with the big victory. After that, it just feels so great."

Sophomore Janae Moore had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists while junior Mariah Duran added 12 points, eight assists and three steals for the Blue Hawks (6-15, 1-6 Frontier).

DSU lost at Western by four points a week earlier but never trailed by more than two points early in this one and led by as much as 12.

"The last few games came down to the last couple minutes," DSU head coach Caleb Harrison said. "Finally we got over that hump. I think a lot of it is mental. Now that we've experienced it, we know what it feels like to beat somebody and to close a game, I think we'll be prepared for the rest of the season."

Solid 3-point shooting throughout the game and limited turnovers were the ideal combination for the Blue Hawks. They shot 8 of 20 (40 percent) from 3-point range -- Nadeau was 5 of 10 and senior Ashley Jelly was 2 of 2 -- while committing just 11 turnovers.

However, the win that seemed almost destined to come as DSU built its lead in the final minutes, didn't come without a prolonged final minute and a half.

The teams went to the free-throw line 11 times in the final 92 seconds -- which took closer to 10 minutes in real time -- as Western put forth a last-ditch effort.

The Blue Hawks had trouble keeping the Bulldogs (12-11, 4-5 Frontier) off the line too. Western was 7 of 8 from the line during the stretch.

Ironically, the often-used game plan by teams trailing in the final minutes and trying to cut into sizeable leads made little difference.

The Blue Hawks led 61-49 after Nadeau hit a 3-pointer with 2:42 remaining, the last of her seven unanswered points.

Western cut DSU's lead to six with 36.6 seconds left, but never came any closer. DSU was 10 of 14 from the line in the final 2 minutes to finish 17 of 24.

DSU senior Dawne Degel scored seven points and took just one 3-pointer, but it was a big one.

Degel drained an open look from the left wing with 4:49 remaining to put DSU ahead 54-47. Just over 2 minutes later, Nadeau nailed the dagger.

"Both Dawne and Yianna, they've been plugging away," Harrison said. "The shots haven't been going all this season but just with their hard work, now they've been getting rewarded. They hit some big shots to win this game."

Roxanne Thurman led the Bulldogs with 17 points, Brittney Leibenguth had 14 points and Jenna Banks added 11. Kaci Matthies grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and four points.

Western's senior scoring and rebounding leader, Sammi Bignell, to a season-low five points on 2 of 9 shooting.

"She's having a hard time getting out of her own way right now," Western head coach Lindsey Woolley said. "Obviously for us to beat teams, especially teams on the road, she has to play well. It's a lot of pressure on her, but I'm confident she'll rebound and play well next weekend and be ready to go."

MONTANA WESTERN (12-11, 4-5 Frontier): Sammi Bignell 2-9 1-5 5, Roxanne Thurman 6-13 5-7 17, Jenna Banks 1-7 8-10 11, Alecia Wilson 2-6 0-0 4, Kelsey Callaghan 2-4 0-0 5, Kassie Kerbs 1-4 0-0 3, McCall Hasquet 0-0 0-0 0, Brittney Leibenguth 5-10 2-4 14, Kaci Matthies 1-4 2-2 4. Totals 20-57 18-28 63.

DICKINSON STATE (6-15, 1-6 Frontier): Dawne Degel 2-4 2-3 7, Jess Bygate 4-10 1-2 9, Lorna Shepherd 0-3 0-0 0, Yianna Nadeau 5-11 3-4 18, Mariah Duran 3-8 0-5 12, Ashley Jelly 2-3 0-0 6, Janae Moore 6-14 2-4 14, Jenna Cabello 1-2 3-4 5. Totals 23-55 17-24 71.

Halftime: DSU 32-27. Total fouls: UMW 20, DSU 23. Fouled out: Leibenguth, Bygate. 3-point goals: UMW 5-20 (Bignell 0-1, Thurman 0-3, Banks 1-4, Wilson 0-1, Callaghan 1-2, Kerbs 1-2, Leibenguth 2-5), DSU 8-20 (Degel 1-1, Shepherd 0-1, Nadeau 5-10, Duran 0-5, Jelly 2-2, Moore 0-1). Rebounds: UMW 38 (Matthies 13), DSU 41 (Moore 9). Assists: UMW 9 (Thurman 3, Wilson 3), DSU 16 (Duran 8). Steals: UMW 8 (Wilson 3), DSU 5 (Duran 3). Blocks: none. Turnovers: UMW 9 (Wilson 4), DSU 11 (Duran 6).

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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