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Jimmies fall to No. 5 Red Raiders

University of Jamestown's Jory Mullen looks through the canopy of Haley Berks of Northwestern College during Wednesday's action at the Newman. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
A loose ball is up for grabs for University of Jamestown and Northwestern College players Wednesday the Harold Newman Arena. Chasing after the ball from left is Breana Schuiteman (14), Emma Stoehr, Kassidy De Jong (30) and Paige Schmidt. In the back are Alexis Toering (31) and Jory Mullen (35). John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

University of Jamestown senior forward Marina Nowak watched her fourth consecutive Jimmie women's basketball game in street clothes on Wednesday, Dec. 5. A difficult situation to be in for a player who's grown accustomed to making a difference in uniform.

The 20th-ranked Jimmies lost a fifth straight contest in falling to visiting fifth-ranked Northwestern (Iowa) in nail-biting, 73-71, fashion at Harold Newman Arena. Jamestown fell to 5-6 overall and 2-5 in Great Plains Athletic Conference play.

"I wish I was out there helping them," said Nowak. "But I know that my role now is to sit there and try to encourage."

Nowak injured her knee Nov. 24 during the Radisson Hotel Classic hosted by NCAA Division II Concordia-St. Paul at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minn. Jamestown was facing the Northern Michigan Wildcats, in what was exhibition play for the Jimmies, when Nowak went down battling for a rebound.

"A girl was trying to rebound at the same time and she nailed my knee," Nowak said. "I could feel it and I was, 'Ah, this is bad.'"

Nowak said an MRI on Nov. 30 revealed a torn MCL and meniscus, but the hope is she's avoided damage to her ACL. Nowak said that will determined today (Dec. 6).

Jamestown nearly knocked off the Red Raiders without her. The Jimmies buried seven second-half 3-pointers as the lead changed hands 20 times over the final 20 minutes.

Northwestern's Sammy Blum came up with the dagger, connecting from downtown and scoring her only three points of the contest to give the Red Raiders a 68-67 lead with 1 minute, 47 seconds left to play.

Leading by a single digit with 9 seconds remaining, Northwestern's Darbi Gustafson made 1 of 2 at the free-throw line to produce the 73-71 final score. Jamestown was unable to find a shot off an inbounds play in the halfcourt over the last 6 seconds of the game.

"That's a sideline that we run," said Jimmie women's basketball coach Thad Sankey. "That ball-screen switch was really aggressive and it just took us out of our stuff, and credit to them (Northwestern). They stepped up and got a stop."

Jamestown trailed 16-13 after one quarter and 33-30 at the half, fighting through a deficit of as many as 11. Jamestown's Emma Stoehr buried three treys in the second half, Paige Schmidt nailed two and Noelle Josephson and Mya Buffetta each pushed a long one through the cylinder, as the lead seesawed to the finish.

Josephson, a freshman starter, led UJ with 19 points, five steals and seven rebounds. Stoehr ended with 15 points and a team-high eight assists.

"That's what we expected. We had confidence we'd be able to compete like that and confidence we could make runs," Sankey said. "We were ready to play and we knew and expected that type of second half."

But Northwestern's big three of Gustafson, Haley Birks and three-time All-American Kassidy De Jong always seemed to have the answer. Birks scored 11 of her game-high 26 points in the third, Gustafson tossed in 10 of her 20 in the fourth, while De Jong scored 16 of her 20 in the first half.

It's been nearly a month since Jamestown's last victory, a home defeat of Doane (Neb.) on Nov. 10. The road doesn't get any easier as the Jimmies travel to face eighth-ranked Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday, Dec. 8.

If all is well with her ACL, Nowak is hopeful to be back in uniform at some capacity later this winter. Nowak had produced 77 points, 52 rebounds and 21 steals in Jamestown's first eight games.

"That's what I'm looking forward to, at least. To try and get back out there," Nowak said. "Especially since it's my senior year."

(5) Northwestern 73, (20) Jamestown 71

NC 16 17 19 21 -- 73

UJ 13 17 21 20 -- 71

NC—Haley Birks 26, Darbi Gustafson 20, Kassidy De Jong 20, Sammy Blum 3, Breana Schuiteman 2, Jada Cunningham 2. Totals: 24-50 FG, 22-26 FT, 3-11 3-pointers (Birks, Blum, De Jong), 32 Rebounds (Gustafson 11), 15 Fouls, 10 Assists, 18 Turnovers, 1 Block, 7 Steals (Gustafson 3).

UJ—Noelle Josephson 19, Emma Stoehr 15, Jenna Doyle 12, Paige Schmidt 8, Mya Buffetta 6, Jory Mullen 4, Lissy McCulloch 3, Mackensi Higlin 2, Mackenzie Sparby 2. Totals: 26-64 FG, 7-10 FT, 12-35 3-pointers (Stoehr 4, Josephson 3, Schmidt 2, Bufetta 2, McCulloch), 30 Rebounds (Josephson 7), 20 Fouls, 18 Assists (Stoehr 8), 15 Turnovers, 3 Blocks (Doyle 2), 10 Steals (Josepson 5, Doyle 3).

Records: Northwestern 9-1, 5-1 GPAC. Jamestown 5-6, 2-5 GPAC.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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