Mesa lifts DSU over Western
As soon as the final buzzer sounded Saturday night at Scott Gymnasium, Mindy Vanderpan found Brittany Mesa and leaped into her arms. Only moments earlier, Vanderpan had driven the lane and kicked the ball to the wide-open Mesa, who hit the game-w...
As soon as the final buzzer sounded Saturday night at Scott Gymnasium, Mindy Vanderpan found Brittany Mesa and leaped into her arms.
Only moments earlier, Vanderpan had driven the lane and kicked the ball to the wide-open Mesa, who hit the game-winning shot from the left wing with 3 seconds left.
"Coach (Guy) Fridley told us if the guards drive the lane to float," Mesa said. "I saw Mindy drive so I floated."
As soon as Montana-Western's Jill Dana missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to cement DSU's 60-58 victory, Vanderpan went screaming toward Mesa, who was on the bench for defensive purposes.
"That's a big shot for a senior," Fridley said.
It was the first victory of the season for the Blue Hawks (1-1), who trailed 33-25 at halftime and fell behind 45-34 by the 12-minute mark of the second half.
An explosive second half by junior Ashley Bakich-Emmons - who had a team-high 18 points - incited the victory.
"We never had a second half last year," Bakich-Emmons said. "This proves that we're turning it around."
The 5-foot-6 guard made three of her four 3-pointers after halftime. She used one of them to cap a 13-0 run and give the Blue Hawks a 47-45 lead - their first since early in the first half.
"I don't consider myself a big shooter, but things change for everybody," Bakich-Emmons said with a laugh.
The feisty shooting guard didn't just lead the team offensively, she also sparked the Blue Hawks on defense with four steals, three of which resulted in DSU points.
"She gets so many turnovers, but what's nice is we get buckets off those turnovers," Fridley said.
A pair of free throws by Western's Jamie Lake gave the Bulldogs a 58-56 advantage with 2:54 remaining.
Mesa, a 6-foot senior forward, tied the game 58-58 with a nifty post move at 1:49.
Lake missed a bonus free-throw opportunity with less than 30 seconds left. Juliet Masei came away with the rebound and raced to DSU's end of the court, where the Blue Hawks called time out and set up the final play.
It was the first loss for the Bulldogs (2-1), who defeated Minot State 58-55 on Friday night.
Mesa said the victory is a huge weight off the team's shoulders.
"Especially from as hard as we've been working in practice," Mesa said. "It's great for it to finally pay off."