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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: UND beats Montana for first time since 1984

UND women's basketball coach Travis Brewster has shied away from most of the big-picture questions about his team's unbeaten mark in Big Sky Conference play, opting instead to focus on the immediate task ahead.

On Thursday, though, Brewster did take a moment to sit back and note the night's significance.

UND beat Montana for the first time since 1984 in a 62-57 victory in front of more than 1,400 fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

"That's the first time we've beat them since we've been Division I, and we talked about that this week," Brewster said. "Montana has been strong for 30-some years under (Griz coach Robin) Selvig."

UND's surprise season in the Big Sky continues. UND, which was pegged eighth and ninth in league preseason polls, moved to 6-0 in the Big Sky and 11-4 overall.

Montana, which came into the weekend in a tie for second in the Big Sky, dropped to 3-2 in the league and 9-5 overall. The Grizzlies are the defending league champion.

North Dakota, which won its fifth-straight game, was able to top Montana thanks to a dominant effort on the glass. UND, which held a one-rebound edge at halftime, finished with 49 rebounds to Montana's 31.

UND finished with three players with double-digit rebounds (Mia Loyd 12, Allyssa Wall 11 and Madi Buck 10).

Loyd was especially active as she finished with 20 points and had seven offensive rebounds. She also had seven turnovers, to lead UND's 25-turnover night.

Loyd, a 5-foot-11 sophomore from Minneapolis, scored UND's first six points of the second half.

"I came out a little bit timid," said Loyd, who came into the game averaging 10 rebounds. "I came out in the second half a little more aggressive. I knew they were in foul trouble, so I wanted to take it at them."

Montana led by as many as nine in the second half when McCalle Feller hit a 3-pointer for a 45-36 lead with 13:18 to play.

But the Griz wouldn't hit another basket from the field for more than 10 minutes. Meanwhile, UND took the lead for good when Makailah Dyer hit two free throws for a 47-46 edge with 7:50 to play.

UND looked to have the game in hand with 95 seconds left when Emily Evers hit a free throw to take a 57-48 lead.

However, the Griz came firing back as UND turned the ball over six times in the final two minutes.

UND didn't seal the win until Leah Szabla knocked down two free throws for the final margin with 12 seconds remaining.

UND shot just 36.5 percent from the field and hit only one of the team's eight 3-point attempts. In addition, UND turned the ball over 25 times to Montana's 17.

However, the huge edge in rebounding was too much for the Griz to overcome. Montana was led by Kellie Cole's 13 points. The Griz starting backcourt of Torry Hill and Cole each fouled out.

Montana was 20-for-62 from the field and 10-for-29 from 3-point range. That's a step back for a team that came to Grand Forks shooting 52 percent and averaging 85.8 points per game in Big Sky play.

UND puts its undefeated mark in the Big Sky -- as well as a perfect 7-0 record at home -- on the line against Montana State on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Betty.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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