ORANGE CITY, Iowa | Pushed to the limit by a young Dordt squad, Northwestern responded with a strong fourth quarter, pulling out a 73-68 Great Plains Athletic Conference women's basketball win Wednesday at the Bultman Center.
Northwestern (7-4, 4-1) trailed from early in the second quarter until early in the fourth, but got things going in the final stanza. Kassidy De Jong scored 20 points for the Red Raiders, who kept pace with the GPAC leaders.
“We were steady throughout but they played really hard,” De Jong said. “We kept fighting and dogging and no matter what the score was just got stops and really got some energy. We came together in the fourth quarter and were talking more to each other.”
Dordt (6-8, 2-4) led at every quarter break, 19-18 after one, 36-33 at halftime and 52-49 after three. Northwestern took its first lead since the six-minute mark of the second quarter on a De Jong hoop with 8:30 left in the game.
The Defenders were never able to regain the advantage, although they tied it at 57-57 on a 3-pointer by Payton Harmsen. It was still a three-point spread 69-66, when Northwestern's Renee Maneman hit one of the biggest shots of the game, canning a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 28 seconds remaining.
“I think the fourth quarter was a matter of digging in defensively,” Northwestern Coach Chris Yaw said. “We took a timeout in the third quarter and I didn't think we were playing with enough fight but we turned that around. I told them defensively is where it has to land, we're not in a position to trade baskets.
“When you're getting stops you don't have in the back of your minds that you have to score every time. We had some transition shots that were big ones and some good hard-nosed plays around the basket. As our defense became more aggressive, offensively we were a lot more free and confident.”
Northwestern shot 53 percent in the second half, rarely missing in the final 10 minutes. Anna Kiel, playing in just her second game since joining the team after volleyball, contributed 18 points and four rebounds, while Darbi Gustafson and Maneman chipped in 11 points each. Maneman, in fact, had a double-double with 11 assists.
Dordt, without a senior on its roster, was paced by by Rachel Evavold with 14 points and eight caroms. Siennah Stamness came off the bench to score 13 points and grab seven rebounds, while Ebby Prewitt added 12 points and Erika Feenstra 10.
“It was a lot of fun to see our ladies battle,” Dordt Coach Kyle Lindbergh said. “That's what we're capable of, having four girls in double digits without one of our top scorers (Annie Rhinesmith) still sidelined. But you have to be able to stop someone's best player and De Jong ended up with 20 points and when she's scoring 20 they're going to win a lot of games.
“We found a way to take her out of it for three quarters but she just found a way in the fourth so we just have to match her intensity and that level of play.”