Lady Royals battle back to pull out win over Wildcats

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Lake Region State College's Maddy Leaf takes a 3-pointer attempt during the second half of a NJCAA women's basketball game against North Dakota State College of Science Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Devils Lake.

With sickness plaguing the Lake Region State College women’s basketball team, it’s best to describe the Royals 66-64 win over North Dakota State College of Science on Sunday, Jan. 26, as their collective “flu game.”

“There are a lot of kids under the weather so much so that we didn’t practice yesterday because we got the old flu bug,” said Royals head coach Danny Mertens. “During halftime, I had three girls puking while I was talking. That’s just show you how much guts they have.

“They wanted it more.”

The Royals (14-9, 4-2 MonDak) trailed by eight going into the final period after the Wildcats ended the third quarter on a 11-3 run. But consecutive 3-pointers by Stephanie Miller and Jordyn Worley cut the lead to two, 54-52, with 7:51 remaining. Two free throws by Nikki Metcalfe with 3:53 left on the clock put the Wildcats ahead by five. It was their last field goal of a two minute scoring drought that proved costly.

Jadyn Pollert connected on two free throws with 3:13 left to pull the Royals to within one. On their next possession, Worley’s 3-pointer found the bottom of the net that gave the Royals the lead at 62-60. Leaf, Pollert and Miller combined to go 3 of 6 from the free-throw line down the stretch to clinch the victory.

Leaf finished the game with 16 points on 6-for-7 from the charity stripe and had five assists. Miller scored 13 points and had five rebounds.

“We got down eight and I thought that was going to break our back but they responded well,” Mertens said. “I have to give my hats off to Maddy Leaf, she had a whale of a game and I hope it gives her a lot of confidence.”

Kayla Bryne scored a team high 17 points for the Royals who won despite shooting just 7 of 25 in the second half. They managed to outscore the Wildcats 20-10 in the fourth quarter.

“It was a big win. We needed this,” Mertens said.

Kate Carlson had a double-double, scoring a game high 22 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Emily-Kate Parker finished with 15 points, going 5-for-6 from beyond the arc after making four 3s in the first half. Parker’s 3 with five seconds left in the first quarter gave the Wildcats (16-5, 3-3) the lead at the quarter break and Carlson’s basket with 1:02 on the clock gave the Wildcats the 36-34 lead going into halftime.

Box score

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