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Bison rally comes up short

FARGO - North Dakota State turned in its best effort since defeating the University of Minnesota before Christmas. But it still wasn't enough to light the Division I victory tree on Saturday night.

FARGO - North Dakota State turned in its best effort since defeating the University of Minnesota before Christmas. But it still wasn't enough to light the Division I victory tree on Saturday night.

Arkansas State took command early in the second half and held off a late Bison rally to take a 64-61 women's basketball victory before 1,620 fans.

The Bison recovered from a double-digit deficit in the second half to make it a race to the buzzer.

"We didn't handle ourselves very well in the last minute," said Arkansas State head coach Brian Boyer.

Brenda Slyt's three-point play with 12 seconds left pulled the Bison within 63-61. Caroline Starr hit one free throw for the Lady Indians one second later.

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NDSU's Lisa Bue and ASU's Ali Carter each missed two free throws, the latter with 3 seconds left.

Slyt's heave from half court hit the side of the rim and fell off.

"I thought it was going to bank in," Slyt said. "Have to pray a little more I guess."

It was NDSU's fourth loss in five games and dropped it to 7-8. Arkansas State, which leads the Sun Belt Conference West Division, improved to 14-6.

A dought of almost six minutes, most of it in the start of the second half, ultimately doomed the Bison. Rudy Sims' 3-pointer from the corner capped an 11-0 and gave ASU a 41-29 advantage with 15:27 remaining.

"The start of the second half was our Achilles' heel again," said NDSU head coach Amy Ruley. "We had to come back."

They almost did.

Slyt's three-point play with 1:06 left brought NDSU within 58-56. But Sims drained a 3-pointer from the win with 48 seconds left for perhaps ASU's biggest bucket of the night.

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"I've been fortunate enough to watch her do that for four years," Boyer said.

Slyt had 15 points to lead the Bison. NDSU had its troubles with the Lady Indians' quickness, but the Bison also willed their way to 20 offensive rebounds and showed some hustling defense.

"I think everyone was more focused," Slyt said. "I felt like everyone put out their best effort and that was the reason we came so close."

Boyer said his team put together "a complete performance."

"This is a tough place to play," he said. "NDSU is a big and strong team. This was something that was not easy."

The Forum and Herald are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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