WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Sioux escape upset bid
UND is the No. 1 team in the country. But is UND playing like the No. 1 team in the country? Clearly, the answer is no. ?We're not playing the way we can play, and that's frustrating,? UND senior center Ashley Langen said after the Sioux struggle...
UND is the No. 1 team in the country.
But is UND playing like the No. 1 team in the country?
Clearly, the answer is no.
"We're not playing the way we can play, and that's frustrating," UND senior center Ashley Langen said after the Sioux struggled to beat determined Mayville State 73-64 on Tuesday night in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
The Sioux rarely are tested by NAIA schools such as Mayville. But the Comets gave UND everything it could handle. UND couldn't distance itself from the Comets until the final five minutes.
There was something else strange about the night.
The Sioux played without head coach Gene Roebuck, who was ill.
"It was a weird feeling, not having coach there yelling in our ear," Langen said. "I'm sure he was yelling at the radio, especially in the first half."
Mayville led 36-35 at halftime, thanks to the perimeter shooting of Cassie Leraas, who finished with a game-high 29 points. She didn't let up in the second half, either. Her seventh 3-pointer with 7:20 to go tied the game at 57.
By that time, the 1,688 Sioux fans realized a huge upset was possible.
But UND received enough production down the stretch to avoid one of its biggest losses in school history. After Leraas' 3-pointer, Jossy Bergan hit a trey on UND's ensuing possession. The Sioux then picked up a defensive stop, which led to Kierah Kimbrough's basket from 14 feet.
The Sioux led 62-57 and managed to stay in control during the final minutes.
The win was the second closer-than-expected outcome against an NAIA school. On Saturday, UND struggled to beat Dakota State - another Dakota Athletic Conference team - 73-59.
"I don't know how to explain it," Langen said. "We think that because we're the University of North Dakota we should win. But that's not the case. We win together as a team and we lose together as a team."
Langen led the Sioux with 23 points. Kimbrough added 16, while Danye Guinn ended with 11. The Sioux struggled with their shooting (42 percent) and surprisingly had trouble on the boards despite their decided physical advantage.
The Sioux held a slim 37-35 rebounding advantage. At halftime, however, Mayville owned a 21-14 advantage on the boards along with its one-point lead. The Sioux led by seven at one point in the first half, but the 5-4 Comets scratched their way back behind Leraas and Jamie Wheeler, who ended with 11 points.
"I'm not into moral victories, but I'm really proud of our team," Mayville coach Dennis Hutter said. "We went toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the country."
Leraas, a 5-foot-6 senior from Hunter, N.D., was the reason for Mayville's near upset. She was 7-for-11 on 3-pointers and also added four assists.
"Cassie can play," Hutter said. "She can play at the Division II level."
UND, which improved to 9-0, will travel to Hawaii today for weekend games against BYU-Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific.
The Sioux hope the trip will help them overcome their two-game rut and a couple of unsettling days.
After Saturday's game, UND senior Anna Leigh Brady lost consciousness in the team's locker room. She was taken to the hospital, but released the next day. She did not suit up against Mayville. That was the start of an unsettling time for the Sioux.
"We've had a heck of a week," UND assistant coach Greg Ulland said. "Coach's sickness is hard on us. We're in finals week and we've got a trip to Hawaii coming up."
But the positive for UND was its performance down the stretch.
"We played with a lot more emotion in the second half," Ulland said. "In the first half, we got in that little rut and couldn't get out of it. But give Mayville credit. They played hard. They came in here believing they could win."