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UND relying on defense through start of Summit play

UND's Jill Morton dives to the court at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center after being tripped by Portland State guard Ashley Bolston (right) in the third quarter of a game last season. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Shots haven't always gone down for the UND women's basketball team this season.

The Fighting Hawks rank eighth in the Summit League in field-goal percentage and ninth in 3-point percentage.

The inconsistent offense means the Fighting Hawks are leaning heavily on defense, which has sparked the team to a 2-1 conference start in the program's first year of the Summit.

UND (7-9 overall, 2-1 Summit) opens a season-long three-game homestand against Omaha (6-9, 1-2) at 7 p.m. tonight.

The Hawks have beat the Mavericks 10 straight times, a stretch dating back to 2005. Omaha, however, is coming off a 17-point win against North Dakota State.

"If you're not locked in on (defense), it's going to hurt you," UND coach Travis Brewster said. "Good teams play defense and that's what top teams in the league are doing. That's the formula."

In wins over Purdue Fort Wayne in Grand Forks and at Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla., UND has shown more full-court pressure than in past years.

"It shows how fast we are and the new kids are really fast so it's fun to play with them," UND senior forward Jill Morton said. "We're playing to our strength that way."

Brewster said lineups and opponents have dictated the full-court pressure.

"It's something we've done and the players have enjoyed it," Brewster said. "You just have to look at who you're playing. If (the opponent) can withstand it, it's futile. But it has been working for us. This group is a little more astute at it."

Morton leads UND and is seventh in the Summit with 1.6 steals per game.

At the rim, UND's 6-foot-2 senior Lexi Klabo ranks first in the Summit and 25th nationally with 1.9 blocks per game.

Brewster also added he's liked the on-ball pressure of point guards Alaina Jarnot, a junior transfer from Monmouth, and true freshman Claire Orth of Circle Pines, Minn.

As a team, UND is second in the Summit during league play at opponent field goal percentage at 39.2.

UND's defenders will be keying on Omaha sophomore guard Claire Killian, who is averaging 10.5 points per game.

Killian has scored at least 15 points in all three of the team's Summit League games. She's 11-for-22 from the 3-point line in the three conference games.

Omaha (6-9, 1-2)

at UND (7-9, 2-1)

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center

TV: Midco SN/FOX College Sports

Radio: 100.3 FM, 740 AM

Web stream: ESPN-Plus

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

(701) 780-1121
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