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Hawks fall to Sacramento State in Big Sky Conference game

UND's Melissa Leet blocks a shot by Sacramento State's Kennedy Nicholas in the second half Wednesday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 3
UND's Faith Dooley hauls in a rebound as Grace Sawatzke looks up during the Fighting Hawks game against Sacramento State Wednesday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
UND's Grace Sawatzke drives the lane as Sacramento State defenders Maranne Johnson, left, and Justyce Dawson defend in the second half Wednesday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

At this time of the season, it's just better if a team moves on. With postseason play a week away, there isn't much sense on dwelling long on a win or a loss.

In UND's case, the Fighting Hawks won't spend much time dissecting their 72-66 loss to Sacramento State on Thursday night before 1,552 fans at The Betty.

UND dropped to 5-12 in the Big Sky Conference and 12-16 overall while Sacramento State—down to eight players because of injuries—improved to 5-12 and 7-21.

UND has one regular-season game remaining, Friday against Portland State. Next week, the Hawks will head to Reno, Nev., for the Big Sky postseason tournament.

UND's downfall against Sacramento State and its pressure defense was turnovers. The Hawks finished with 21 turnovers, leading to 15 Sacramento State points. And UND also was hampered by a handful of missed shots from close range.

"This was supposed to be a momentum-builder for us," said UND coach Travis Brewster. "We had 13 turnovers in the first half; we left a lot of points at the free-throw line; and we had some great looks, some high-percentage shots that we missed. That's not typical of us.

"It's a tough one. But you have to keep your head and build for the future."

Sacramento State, led by Maranne Johnson's 22 points, led most of the way. With 6:23 to play, the Hornets led 61-47.

If there was a positive for UND, it was its push in the final five minutes. The Hawks cut Sacramento State's lead to 68-66 on a Jill Morton 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play. But the Hornets closed out the win at the line.

Lexi Klabo led UND with a career-high 31 points. She also grabbed 11 rebound. Morton finished with 14 points, but no other UND player managed more than six points.

"We should have won," said Klabo. "They pressed a lot and that's what we struggle with. But we did better against it in the second half. We can break the press and play through ball pressure. We fought back so that's good to see."

UND had one chance to gain control and that came early in the second half.

Faith Dooley's putback at 7:36 of the third quarter gave the Hawks a 35-33 lead. For the first time, it appeared UND had some serious momentum.

But on the Hornets' ensuing possession, Tiara Scott scored a four-point play, hitting a 3-pointer from deep in the corner and drawing a foul in the process.

That was the start of an 11-0 Sacramento State run.

UND now turns its attention toward Portland State on Friday afternoon. Portland State lost at Northern Colorado 63-60 on Wednesday night but the Vikings remain in the mix for one of the four first-round byes at next week's tournament.

"They beat us in the first round in Reno last year," said Klabo. "We have to come out with a chip on our shoulder, have some energy, have some fun, keep getting better and hopefully get the win."

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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