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Portland State downs UND in Big Sky women's basketball tournament

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UND's Fallyn Freije looks for an opening against Portland State's Corey James (15) and Ashley Bolston (0) during Wednesday's Big Sky Conference game in Reno, Nev. Photo/Mackenzie Kasper.3 / 3

RENO, Nev. -- Makailah Dyer, UND’s leading scorer, had the shot she likely wanted. Her teammates believed that, too.

But Dyer’s 3-point shot with 3 seconds to play was off the mark, a miss that gave Portland State a 65-62 win over the Fighting Hawks on Wednesday night in the quarterfinal round of the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball tournament.

“That last shot was a great one for her,” said UND’s Leah Szabla. “She’s been hitting that all year. I thought it was in. You couldn’t ask for any more.”

The loss stings for UND, considering the Hawks won a share of the league’s regular-season title and came in as the No. 2 seed in the tournament. UND’s dream of making the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years ended with the loss.

Now, UND will await word of an invitation from a secondary postseason tournament, such as the WNIT or the WBI.

UND dropped to 20-10 while No. 7 seed Portland State, which beat the Hawks last week in Portland, improved to 16-16 and will play in Friday’s semifinal round.

UND had issues on offense much of the night against Portland State’s 2-3 zone, fronted by 6-foot-2 guard Ashley Bolston, who led the Vikings with 20 points. Bolston earned Newcomer of the Year honors this season in the Big Sky. And 13 of her points came in the second half.

UND, led by Lexi Klabo’s 22 points, never developed any offensive rhythm -- its biggest spurt coming on an 8-0 run late in the third quarter. UND led 44-40 early in the fourth quarter before the Vikings responded with a 10-0 run for a 50-44 advantage with 6:32 to play.

“Bolston is a 6-2 guard and a tough matchup,” said Klabo, who also pulled down 12 rebounds.

Portland State bumped its lead to 56-47 before the Hawks slowly worked their way back, leading to Dyer’s last-chance 3-point attempt.

“It was a good look,” said UND coach Travis Brewster.

UND, however, struggled to get good looks at the basket most of the game.

“When you play a team like that, you can’t overthink the game,” said Brewster. “You have to make the extra pass, knock down the open shots. You have to slice up the zone because there are gaps in it.

“You have to credit Portland State; they had a good game plan. We just didn’t make enough shots at the right time.”

UND shot 38 percent, making 22 of 58. UND’s defense, however, was solid. The Hawks held Portland State to 40 percent shooting and they outrebounded the Vikings 37-31.

“Our length got to them,” said Portland State coach Lynn Kennedy. “They started to scramble around. We match up pretty well with them as far as length. They were stopping short of going to the rim. We had to protect the rim, especially after our game with them last week. They would try to attack and get the ball to their post players.”

UND’s goal was the Big Sky title and the automatic berth it carries to the NCAA Tournament.

“I can’t say it was a bad season at all,” said Brewster. “Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted. But at the same time there are a lot of good players on this team that did a lot of good things.”

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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