Bruins turn in gritty performance to fend off Mayville State comeback bid

Caletria Curtis had an outstanding all-around game finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists
Caletria Curtis had an outstanding all-around game finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists

Box Score
NSAA Standings

MAYVILLE, N.D. -- Caletria Curtis finished just one assist shy of the first triple-double in program history as the Bellevue University women's basketball team held off a spirited (RV) Mayville State University rally to defeat the Comets 70-63 on Saturday afternoon in North Star Athletic  Association action at the Lewy Lee Fieldhouse.

A Karleigh Weber three-pointer with 2:58 to play cut a four-point BU lead to just one setting up the exciting finish. Back-to-back baskets from Beth Walker and Morgan Cuffe at the Bruins' offensive end put the visitors back up by two possessions, 63-58. A missed shot and a trey from Walker with 1:34 to go effectively sealed the Bellevue victory. Naomi Torgerson hit a shot with 20 seconds to go but BU sank three free throws in the final 13 seconds to secure the win.

Bellevue improves to 17-12 overall and 10-5 in NSAA play. Mayville State saw their record dip to 17-8 and 8-6 in the NSAA.

With the win Bellevue clinches both the third seed and a first round home game in the upcoming NSAA Tournament.

The teams spent the opening minutes of the first quarter feeling each other out before a 10-4 MSU run, capped by back-to-back Cyan Hale threes, gave the Comets a 13-9 lead at the 2:17 mark. But five-straight points from BU's Morgan Cuffe and a triple at the buzzer from Ryleigh McCartney gave the Bruins a 17-13 lead after one period of play.

Mayville cut the Bruin lead to two early in the second quarter but Bellevue rattled off an 11-2 run over a span of 5:02 to take their biggest lead of the half, 30-19. The Comets, almost immediately cut the lead down to six but BU kept MSU at arm's length for the remainder of the half and held a 37-29 lead at halftime.

Caletria Curtis led the Bruins with 12 points in the first half. Walker and Cuffe each scored seven and McCartney added six. Andi Gayner paced Mayville with eight points in the first 20 minutes and Naomi Torgerson added seven. Hale and Karleigh Weber each added six.

The Bruin lead hovered between 6-8 points early in the second half until Curtis scored six-straight for Bellevue before the next Comet basket which was answered when McCartney banged home her third trey of the game to put BU up by 13 with 5:21 to play in the quarter. The Comets scored the next eight points before the teams traded three-pointers inside the final minute and Bellevue took a 51-46 lead into the fourth quarter.

After slowly chipping away to begin the fourth quarter Mayville State got within a point following a Claire Blascziek three-pointer with 6:35 to play. After empty possessions by both sides, Bellevue's Elexis Martinez took a pass from Curtis and converted an old-fashioned three-point play before a Walker steal led to another Curtis-to-Martinez connection to put the Bruins up 59-53.

Curtis finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists to lead the Bruins in all three categories. Walker (17) and Cuffe (11) joined her in double-figures with McCartney tossing in an additional nine points.

Mayville State was led by Gayner's 17 points. Torgerson finished with 12 and nine boards while Joelle Ertl chipped in 10 points.

The Bruins will conclude the regular-season on Saturday, Feb. 17 when they host Dakota State University at 3 p.m. in the Gordon Lozier Athletic Center. Senior Day activities will follow the game.