ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

North Dakota women's basketball, Montana collide in race for 4th place in Big Sky

GRAND FORKS -- Nothing has come easy for the University of North Dakota since the Big Sky Conference season started.The Fighting Hawks began league play 1-4, raising questions whether their preseason No. 2 ranking was legitimate.However, UND has ...

GRAND FORKS - Nothing has come easy for the University of North Dakota since the Big Sky Conference season started.
The Fighting Hawks began league play 1-4, raising questions whether their preseason No. 2 ranking was legitimate.
However, UND has won 10 of its past 11 Big Sky games heading into tonight’s showdown with Montana. The Griz (18-9 overall) and UND are tied for fourth in the league. Both are 11-5 with two games to play.
There is significant importance to the game. The winner will take a big step forward in securing fourth place in the final league standings. A top-four finish in league play results in a first-round bye in next week’s Big Sky postseason tournament in Reno, Nev.
If UND finishes fifth or lower, the Hawks would play a first-round game on Monday. A fourth-place or better finish means UND (15-12 overall) won’t play until Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
“Through everything, we’ve battled very well as a team,” said UND senior Mia Loyd.
At 1-4 in the league, UND’s season could have deteriorated quickly. Instead, UND figured out various ways to win since its 69-61 loss to league-leader Montana State on Jan. 14.
All 10 of UND’s wins have been by seven or fewer points. Six of the wins have been by three or fewer points, including one that went to overtime.
The close games have taught UND one thing.
“Our team is starting to understand the importance of each possession,” said UND coach Travis Brewster.
Montana and UND were picked 1-2 in preseason league polls.
UND beat Montana 61-59 on Jan. 15 on Loyd basket at the buzzer, the game-winner coming on an inbounds pass from Makailah Dyer.
Montana, meanwhile, has two of the league’s top three scorers in Kayleigh Valley (21.3 ppg) and McCalle Feller (16.6 ppg). Montana also is the league’s hottest team with seven-straight wins coming into tonight’s game.
UND’s strength is its rebounding and ability to get to the free-throw line. The Hawks outrebound opponents by nearly 10 boards per game and have shot the second-most free throws this season in the league.
It won’t get any easier for UND on Friday as league-leader Montana State will play the Hawks at the Betty in an afternoon game.

What To Read Next
DICKINSON — The Dickinson Midgets basketball teams fell to Western Dakota Association's powerhouse Century Patriots on Tuesday evening. Both the boys and girls varsity teams struggled to keep up with the Patriots' consistent scoring, falling 100-66 and 67-49 respectively.
Clancy Meyer becomes first female varsity wrestler from Dickinson to win on home mat in inaugural season
The Dawgs scored 51 points from beyond the arc in their away match against Grant County Mott-Regent.
Midgets secure 109-72 blowout win against Watford City at home in record-breaking game