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Sioux find another way to a victory

MANKATO, Minn. - UND's two strengths - running and rebounding - were on display against Minnesota State-Mankato. There's nothing new about that, as UND has overwhelmed opponent after opponent with its transition game and power in the paint.

MANKATO, Minn. - UND's two strengths - running and rebounding - were on display against Minnesota State-Mankato. There's nothing new about that, as UND has overwhelmed opponent after opponent with its transition game and power in the paint.

But a new strength was on display, too, in UND's 84-76 North Central Conference win against Mankato on Thursday night. Karla Beck's perimeter game stole the show for much of the night, as the top-ranked Sioux improved to 5-0 in the NCC and 22-1 overall.

Beck finished with a career-high 26 points, making 9 of 12 shots from the field. And the majority of her scoring came early when the Sioux needed it the most.

"Beck kept them in the game in the first half," Mankato coach Lori Fish said. "She hits a handful of 3-pointers and took it to the basket."

Ashley Langen then took it to the Mavericks in the second half, returning to the form that made her one of the more dominant post players in the country last season. Langen finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds in clearly her best outing of the season.

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In all, UND managed to beat an improved Mankato team (1-4, 13-7) and - as a result - took sole possession of first place in the NCC as Augustana lost its first league game of the season at Nebraska-Omaha.

"We knew coming in here that we had to take care of things," Beck said. "If we would have looked past them, they would have taken it past us because they're a pressuring team."

UND led throughout. The Sioux went ahead 64-47 after a Kayla Bagaason basket with 14:31 to play, a result of the play inside of Langen and Kierah Kimbrough, who had a quiet 13 points after averaging 21 points through her first four NCC games.

Langen scored in transition and on power moves.

"That's how I played last year," Langen said. "I made the bunnies I've been missing and I got to the foul line. Kierah may have had a tough game, but we have players who can step up."

Langen also set two crunching picks on the perimeter that flattened Mankato's Heather Johnson.

Johnson had a career game that prevented the Sioux from taking a blowout win after opening their 17-point lead. Johnson scored a career-high 29 points, making six of her team's season-high 11 three-pointers.

"Mankato played very well," UND coach Gene Roebuck said. "They were nailing a lot of long shots. But when you're on the road, it's a matter of not playing from behind. We got that (17-point) cushion in the second half and never let them get closer than eight points. Beck and Langen made big plays."

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Beck's biggest basket came with 2:37 to play. Her 3-pointer gave the Sioux a 79-68 lead.

"It's a big confidence booster to hit those shots on the road," Beck said.

UND won its 23rd straight road game and 23rd straight conference game.

The Sioux didn't have their normal scoring balance, but their overall game was solid. Outside of Beck, Langen and Kimbrough, no player scored more than eight points, those coming from Carissa Jahner who turned in another lock-down defensive game.

UND outrebounded Mankato 36-24, but 16 of the Sioux boards came on offense. The 16 rebounds were a season high and took a toll on the Mavericks in the second half.

"We played hard," Fish said. "They were the better basketball team. They have so much inside presence. We contained their post players in the first half. But Langen was more active in the second half."

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