Despite leading through three quarters, the Omaha women’s basketball team was unable to hold on late at North Dakota State, falling 55-48 in Fargo.
Omaha, who came into the game in eighth place in the conference standings, held an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, North Dakota State outscored the Mavericks 26-14 in the fourth, all the more surprising considering NDSU only scored 4 points in the third quarter.
The Mavs benefited early from NDSU’s cold shooting day. The Bison only shot 33 percent from the floor and only 25 percent from three. Where NDSU got their points was the free throw stripe. They shoot 78 percent from the line, as opposed to Omaha’s 60 percent. It also helped NDSU’s comebacks to shoot considerably more free throw attempts (27 compared to Omaha’s 15).
Kalen Phillips led the team in points with 11 on 50 percent shooting. Mariah Murdie also had a solid game with nine points and nine boards.
Junior and team leader Rayanna Carter struggled throughout the game, scoring only five points on 2-12 shooting.
Leading the way for the Bison was Rylee Nudell who had 16 points on 5-9 shooting. Emily Dietz also played a huge factor late with her free throw shooting, going 7-10 from the foul line.
With the win, North Dakota State splits the season series with the Mavericks. Omaha won earlier this season at Baxter by a score of 78-61.
The loss is especially painful for the Mavs, considering it greatly hurts the team’s chances of making the conference tournament. They aren’t dead yet, but they are going to need some help. Here is where Omaha stands at right now:
Omaha picked up an important win last week at home against then-eight seed Purdue- Fort Wayne. The win put Omaha in a tie with Fort Wayne for the last spot in the conference tournament. With the addition of North Dakota to the conference, only eight teams make the tournament in Sioux Falls, with one lonely team missing the tournament, the last placed team.
If Omaha and Fort Wayne both lose out, it will come down to tiebreakers, which currently belongs to Fort-Wayne. Fort-Wayne’s lone conference win outside their win against Omaha, is against the higher-ranked Denver (Omaha’s other conference win is against NDSU), which elevates them in the standings. In order for Omaha to still make the tournament, Omaha would have to win one of their last two games, at Denver and at Oral Roberts. In addition, Omaha would need Fort Wayne to lose out in two home games against far easier opponents: North Dakota and North Dakota State.
With the win today, North Dakota State considerably adds to their lead over Omaha and Fort Wayne. NDSU now has four conference wins as opposed to Omaha and Fort Wayne’s two apiece.
North Dakota State gets back on the court Thursday to play top 25 team South Dakota. Omaha heads to Tulsa on Thursday to face Oral Roberts before continuing the road trip to Denver to round out the regular season next Saturday.