Lake Region State College shoots 20-for-67 from the field in the Mon-Dak victory over the Thunderbirds.

Lake Region State College women’s coach Danny Mertens said postgame that his team assured him that they will shoot better — eventually.

The Royals defeated United Tribes Technical College 58-49 Thursday night from the Sports Center, despite going 20-for-67 from the floor.

“I walked into the locker room and I said, ‘now if we play like that, could we beat Bismarck [State College] and Science [North Dakota State College of Science]?’ They said no. ‘We can’t shoot like that.’ They said they’ll shoot better coach. So I left it at that.”

The Royals (18-10, 6-5 Mon-Dak) shot just 20.5 percent from the field in the second half, 6 of 28 from beyond the arc for the game but held the Thunderbirds to just 49 points although United Tribes shot just under 38 percent.

The Royals went out to a 5-0 lead by the Thunderbirds came back to tie at 5-all and took the lead at 7-5 after a Mia Wilkerson basket. But after Lake Region State took the one point lead with 3:48 left in the first quarter, the Royals never trailed again. The Royals led by as many as 20 but was outscored 20-11 in the fourth quarter which allowed the Thunderbirds to cut the deficit down to eight with a little over two minutes remaining in the game after a Jasmyne Two Moons basket.

United Tribes didn’t get any closer.

“This was just a win we needed just to regroup,” said Mertens whose Royals have won two straight after playing .500 over the previous four games. “I told the girls, for us to move up in the standings, we have to win out.”

The Royals are alone in fourth in the conference standings and three games back in the loss column of NDSCS with three games remaining, including a home game against NDSCS on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

“We have to take it one game at a time,” Mertens said.

Dani Schwanke scored 13 points and had nine rebounds and Maara Nelson, who registered her 700th point in the Royals overtime win on Sunday against Dawson Community, finished with 10 rebounds, nine rebounds and three assists.

Karissa DuShane scored 13 points for the Thunderbirds (13-13, 2-9).