UND Women Overpowered in Summit League Tournament Semifinal
The Fighting Hawks fell to South Dakota 84-61
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (UND Athletics) – Playing its second game in a 24-hour span, against the first opponent in league history to earn a top-25 ranking on the women’s side, who had only lost four games all season, and had defeated UND by a combined 63 points in the previous two meetings, the sixth-seeded Fighting Hawks gave everything it could in an 84-61 defeat to No. 2 seed South Dakota on Monday afternoon’s Summit League Semifinals in front of 6,214 fans in Sioux Falls.
Going up against predominately red-dressed crowd, UND (12-19) hung with the Coyotes (28-4) for a strong majority of the contest, but a combined scoreless stretch of 10:25 that saw USD outscore UND, 23-0, to open the first and second halves doomed the Fighting Hawks.
“It was good for our players to have that experience of playing South Dakota in this environment,” said North Dakota head coach Travis Brewster. “South Dakota played better, but we closed the gap.”
Three Fighting Hawks reached double figures, fittingly, all members of the senior class playing their final games in a UND uniform. Melissa Dailey finished just three points off her career high and matched the game’s top mark with 17 on 6-of-9 shooting while also adding a pair of rebounds and an assist in 28 minutes of action.
Lexi Klabo struggled to get going offensively throughout much of the game, battling through a lot of physical play to tally 12 points and seven rebounds in her final game. The senior moved into eighth all-time in program scoring and tops among student-athletes who played their entire careers in the Division I era (2008-present) with 1,633 points.
Jill Morton was the final Fighting Hawk in double figures with 12 points, two assists, two rebounds, and a steal. The senior was limited to just 28 minutes of play due to fouling out in the fourth quarter.
North Dakota struggled to get things going offensively to begin the game, missing its first 11 shots before Claire Orth got the Hawks on the board with a jumper in the lane off an offensive board. During that same span, South Dakota was able to convert on 5-of-12 from the field to take a 13-2 lead with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter.
Over the final three minutes, UND started to get its shot to drop. The Hawks outscored the Coyotes, 8-7, to close the frame and trim what was a 13-point deficit down to 10 at the end of the opening stanza. After being in foul trouble for most of the quarter, UND flipped the script over those final three minutes and forced a pair of Coyote starters into foul trouble of their own.
The tide started to turn towards the team in black just before the midway point of the second quarter as Morton and Dailey drilled back-to-back threes and Strand finished inside to cut the deficit down to seven, 27-20, with just over five minutes to play in the opening half. UND continued to chip away, pulling within two thanks to a 7-0 run with three-and-change left in the half, but South Dakota stretched the advantage back to nine with a quick spurt of its own.
UND outscored the Coyotes, 33-27, over the final 13 minutes of the half head into the locker room trailing by just seven, 40-33. Just like they did yesterday, the Hawks did a strong job of limiting the outside shot of their opponent as USD connected on only two of its seven tries from three.
The momentum built by the Hawks did not carry out to start the second half as UND missed its first four shots to start the frame to allow South Dakota to extend its lead to a game-high at the time 17, 50-33, with just four minutes gone in the period. Turnovers were a problem in the opening minutes for UND, committing four giveaways that turned into six Coyote points.
USD continued to attack throughout the third quarter, connecting on 9-of-13 from the field and all eight of its attempts from the charity stripe to outscore the Fighting Hawks, 26-11, in the period and carry a 66-44 lead into the fourth.
North Dakota had a final run in them, cutting the 23-point South Dakota lead down to 13 with just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Fighting Hawks could get no closer as the Coyotes advanced to the championship game with an 84-61 win.