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Bison women fall short to Western Illinois

FARGO, N.D.(ndsu sports information)-–The NDSU women's basketball team (6-19, 2-8 Summit) gave up 13 offensive rebounds and were outscored at the free throw line, 21-3, in a 76-68 loss to the Western Illinois Leathernecks (13-11, 5-4 Summit) Thursday, Feb. 13, inside the Bison Sports Arena in Summit League action. The Bison were led by Brooke LeMar with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Marena Whittle scored 14 points while Holly Johnson and Bree Whatman each tallied 13. Miki Stephenson paced the Bison on the boards, snagging nine rebounds. NDSU led Western Illinois 32-23 with 3:37 remaining in the first-half, only to see the Leathernecks pull within 32-29 just before halftime after going on a 6-0 run the final 2:06. The Leathernecks continued their offensive surge in the second-half, using a 5-0 run to gain their first lead of the game, 44-43, with 15:29 to go. The Bison regained a brief 45-44 advantage after Whittle made one of two free throws, but WIU answered with a 9-0 run to open up a nine point lead, 54-45, after a layup from Ashley Luke with 10:42 remaining in the second stanza. The Bison cut the Western Illinois lead to three, 62-59, when Johnson converted a layup with 4:46 to go, but that was as close as the Bison could get the remainder of the contest. NDSU was 29-for-59 (49 percent) from the field and 7-for-16 (44 percent) from three. The Bison struggled getting to the foul line and were just 3-for-7 (43 percent) from the charity stripe. Western Illinois shot 45 percent from the field, going 25-for-56 and were 5-for-15 (33 percent) from beyond the arc. The Leathernecks were able to get to the free throw line 32 times, making 21 charity shots for 66 percent. WIU scored 21 second chance points compared to just five from the Bison. The Leathernecks' Ashley Luke led all-scorers in the game, posting a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds. With the loss, NDSU drops to 6-19 overall and 2-8 in Summit League play while Western Illinois moves to 13-11 overall and 5-4 in league action. The Bison will close out their 2013-14 home schedule and play the final women's basketball ever inside the Bison Sports Arena Saturday, Feb. 15, against Omaha. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. Airtime on KVOX 740-AM "The Fan" in Fargo-Moorhead is slated for 1:40 p.m. with Jack Michaels and Jeremy Jorgenson.