MADISON, S.D. -- After struggling to just a 27 percent effort from the floor in the first half, the Bellevue University women's basketball team found their rhythm as they shot at a 57 percent clip in the second half to defeat Dakota State University 80-70 in the North Star Athletic Association-opener for both schools on Saturday afternoon at the DSU Fieldhouse.
(RV) Bellevue: 7-4 (1-0 NSAA)
Dakota State: 2-6 (0-1 NSAA)
Recap: (RV) BU 80, DaSU 70
Both teams struggled from the floor in the early going as BU and Dakota State combined to shoot under 30 percent in the first half before the offenses ramped up in the third and fourth quarters.
Dakota State jumped out to an early 5-3 lead but Bellevue answered right back with a 7-2 run to take a 10-7 lead with 3:44 to play before holding onto a 14-12 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Trojans take their largest lead of the game, 27-22, but BU used an 8-3 spurt to tie the game with just over a minute to play in the half. A bucket with seven seconds to go gave the home side a 33-30 lead into halftime.
Morgan Koepsell led all players with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting at the break. Jessi Giles and Ashlyn Macdonald chipped in eight and six points with Macdonald added eight boards by the intermission.
Out of the break, Bellevue scored the first six points – part of a larger 16-2 run – to take a 46-35 lead. BU shot 61.1 percent in the quarter and out-scored Dakota State 26-14 to hold a 56-47 lead after three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter saw the Bruins maintain a lead ranging from 4-8 points for the majority of play. Ahead 73-68 with 40.1 seconds on the clock, BU sank seven of eight free throw attempts to close out the 80-70 victory.
Hill was one of three Bruins, along with Faith Ross and Elexis Martinez, to score 19 points on the afternoon. Pankey tossed in 16 points and Martinez – hampered by foul trouble throughout – pulled down seven boards. Former Trojan Cassie Jones finished with season-highs of nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Bruins in both categories.
Koepsell paced Dakota State with a game-high 26 points. Joining her in double figures were both Giles and Macdonald who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively. Macdonald narrowly missed a double-double as she finished with nine rebounds.
Bellevue ventures to Sioux Center, Iowa on Tuesday, Dec. 10 to take on No. 5-ranked Dordt College at De Witt Gymnasium with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.