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Blue Hawks surrender a lead in loss to Trojans

Dickinson State junior guard Celeste Pantoja tied the game against Dakota State at 51 with a pair of free throws, starting a nine-point run that helped the Blue Hawks to a 60-54 advantage at the end of three quarters.

Dickinson State freshman forward Caleigh McClenahan eyes the basket from underneath in a game against Dakota State (S.D.) on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Scott Gym. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State freshman forward Caleigh McClenahan eyes the basket from underneath in a game against Dakota State (S.D.) on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Scott Gym. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson State junior guard Celeste Pantoja tied the game against Dakota State at 51 with a pair of free throws, starting a nine-point run that helped the Blue Hawks to a 60-54 advantage at the end of three quarters.

However, the Trojans erupted in the fourth, outscoring the home team 33-19 to win the game 87-79 on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Scott Gym.

"Our transition was good tonight. We did an excellent job pushing the ball and looking for scoring opportunities without having to run our offense," Dickinson State head coach Liz Lewis said. "It was a fun game. We came in at half time and the girls were like, 'This is fun.' It was a really fun game, unfortunately, we just weren't able to hold on to the lead at the end."

Following Pantoja's makes, junior guard Ashlie Larson turned a steal into points with a breakaway layup. Then, senior guard Riley Helmick hit her second 3-pointer of the night and freshman forward Caleigh McClenahan split a pair of foul shots.

The 57-51 Dickinson State advantage prompted Dakota State head coach David Moe to call a timeout.

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With a minute and eight seconds on the clock, Pantoja was fouled on a turnaround jumper in front of the net. As she completed the three-point play, Dickinson State earned a 60-51 advantage, their greatest of the night. The Caldwell, Idaho native ended the night with a team-high 15 points, while junior guard Ashlie Larson followed with 13 and senior guard Anna Jofresa added 11.

"Our offense is there, it's just we got to try to be more consistent on the defensive end," Pantoja said. "We've had some slumps in the third and fourth quarter. We're working on it, that's what counts, we're definitely improving. ... The biggest thing is (to) peak at the right time, is what I like to say."

Freshman guard Jessi Giles netted a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left in the third, starting a 10-point run for the Trojans that carried through the opening minutes of the fourth.

"We took a timeout and I just told them, 'Look, Dickinson (State) is a good team. They're at home and good teams at home are going to make their run,'" Moe said. "'We just go to weather the storm. You got to make it tough on defense. Really talk on defense, that's where you're gonna get the stops and offensively, take care of the ball.' Towards the end of the game, we did a much better job taking care of the ball."

Center Alexis Evans poured in the first five points of the final frame and a basket from freshman guard McKenzie Hermanson gave Dakota State a 61-60 lead and forced Lewis to call timeout.

Hermanson added a three before a free throw from Blue Hawks freshman forward Danielle Wallace stopped the streak.

Dickinson State had seven missed attempts through the first four and a half minutes of the frame.

"When we're playing at a faster pace and intensity, when we go up to make layups, we got to be able to slow down and shoot them in rhythm," Lewis said. "When we get up in the air on layups, we have to do a better of finding a target and finishing."

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Lewis was proud of the assist-turnover ratio, as her team relinquished the ball just 14 times and accrued 16 assists, led by senior guard Lacey Waid with four.

Dickinson State's help-defense caused more harm than good in the first half. Dakota State was quick to move the ball inside and out, and the lethal three-point shooters took advantage of the fact that three Blue Hawks were in the paint. The Trojans went 7-for-19 from deep in the first half, with makes coming from five different players. Giles hit a pair in the opening minutes, sandwiching a 3-pointer from Alexis Robson to build a 9-2 advantage.

In the second half, the Trojans hit 7 of 13 from deep, with four coming from Hermanson, who led all players with 23 points.

"Our on-ball defense isn't our strength and that's something we got to get better at," Lewis said. "Our on-ball defense with the penetration creates open shots for other players because we have to go and help. That's something that we'll work on this week and we'll get better at."

Dakota State (S.D.) 87, Dickinson State 79

DaSU 26 14 14 33

DiSU 25 13 22 19

DaSU (3-10 NSAA): McKenzie Hermanson 23, Alexis Robson 18, Olivia Breske 12, Jessi Giles 11.

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DiSU (4-22, 10-18, 3-10 NSAA): Celeste Pantoja 15, Ashlie Larson 13, Anna Jofresa 11, Caleigh McClenahan 9, Lacey Waid 9, Riley Helmick 8, Rojin Karahan 5, Danielle Wallace 5, Kyley Verploegen 4.

Total fouls: DaSU 20, DiSU 20. 3-point goals: DaSU 14-32 (Hermanson 6-13), DiSU 6-24 (Larson 3-8). Rebounds: DaSU 48 (Taylor Volesky 8), DiSU 35 (McClenahan). Assists: DaSU 20 (Robson 7), DiSU 16 (Waid 4). Steals: DaSU 3 (Hermanson 2), DiSU 14 (Waid 5). Blocks: DaSU 1 (Aubrey Miedema), DiSU 3 (McClenahan). Turnovers: DaSU 22, DiSU 14.

Bellevue (Neb.) 68, Dickinson State 57

BU 18 14 19 17

DSU 17 10 12 18

BU (16-6, 10-2 NSAA): Elexis Martinez 18, Shayla Dean 15, Faith Ross 12.

DSU (4-21, 3-9 NSAA): Rojin Karahan 14, Anna Jofresa 13, Caleigh McClenahan 8, Riley Helmick 6, Brook Janz 4, Ashlie Larson 4, Lacey Waid 4, Celeste Pantoja 4.

Total fouls: BU 11, DSU 16. 3-point goals: BU 9-20 (Ross 4-8), DSU 5-22 (Jofresa 3-4). Rebounds: BU 37 (L Jurek 8), DSU 32 (Karahan 11). Assists: BU 17 (J Winkler 4), DSU 9 (Jofresa 3). Steals: BU 4 (Jurek 2), DSU 11 (Pantoja, McClenahan, Jofresa, Waid, Janz 2). Blocks: BU 2 (Ross 1), DSU 2 (McClenahan, Pantoja). Turnovers: BU 18, DSU 13.

Dakota State freshman guard/forward Olivia Breske drives into the paint against Dickinson State on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Scott Gym. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dakota State freshman guard/forward Olivia Breske drives into the paint against Dickinson State on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Scott Gym. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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