Lake Region State College allowed situational spurts to cost them against No. 23 Bismarck State College.

Over the previous two matchups against No. 23 Bismarck State College, Lake Region State College was making incremental gains. In the first meeting, the Mystics won by 24 back at the Mon-Dak Preseason Tournament from New Town. In the second outing on Jan. 20, the loss was by 21.

On Sunday, Feb. 16, the Royals lost 86-73 to fall to 0-3 against the Mystics. Head coach Danny Mertens articulated as to the deciding factors in a few of their losses.

“We played them three times and I feel the last two times we had a three minute stretch, two minute stretch that kill us and that’s what happened in the second quarter. We tried to run with them and we can’t run with them,” said Mertens. “Did we get good looks out of those runs? Yeah but when you’re shooting the ball five seconds into the shot clock …”

There were two spurts by the Mystics in the second period. After a Kayla Byrne 3-pointer that pulled the Royals (17-12, 7-5 Mon-Dak) to 32-27, the Mystics scored six quick points to up their lead to 11. The Royals recovered and got within five again with three minutes, 12 seconds left until halftime with another Byrne 3. However, the Mystics ended the quarter on an 8-3 run and led by 10 at halftime.

 “It was 40-35 and then we turned it over twice trying to run with them, and they got two buckets off it. Then another one — it was just that lapse right there,” Mertens said.

The Mystics (24-4, 10-2) extended the lead to 15 in the third quarter. The Royals got within 10 with 6:01 remaining in the game but couldn’t get any closer.

Byrne led the Royals with 22 points. Averi Ziegler (Devils Lake), who just scored a career-high 29 points in the win against United Tribes Technical College on this past Thursday, finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Hailey Hewitt was the other Royal in double figure scoring with 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Royals have lost three of their last four and sits in fourth in the Mon-Dak. Ahead of them in the standings is North Dakota State College of Science, which the Royals play Thursday in Wahpeton.

“We all believe that we can make a run at this. We’re finally getting together. We just have to stay on the process,” Mertens said.

Amber Stevahn had 29 points on 13 of 17 from the floor, 11 rebounds and seven assists to pace the Mystics.

Box score can be found here.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com.