A night after a rewarding, feel-good win during a trying season, UND couldn’t duplicate the feat against Western Illinois.
Still, the Hawks still left the weekend feeling a bit better than they had after previous Summit League weekends.
Western Illinois used timely 3-point shooting and a quicker face in the second half to upend UND 83-74 on Saturday night at The Betty, a loss that dropped the Hawks to 1-8 in the Summit and 1-14 overall. Western Illinois improved to 3-7 and 4-14.
“It was a contradictory game from (Friday),” said UND interim coach Mallory Bernhard. “Yesterday, we had a much better control of pace. That was dedicated much more by us and a lot of that was due to the large amount of offensive rebounds we were getting. That slows a team from getting out in transition.
“Tonight, I think we really got pulled into their game and their pace. At the end of the third quarter, they had as many points as they did yesterday.”
UND’s overall play wasn’t disappointing. The Hawks shot a decent percentage (39 percent), rebounded OK (45-40 advantage) and didn’t commit a ton of turnovers (14). Sometimes, the opponent makes enough timely shots -- especially from the perimeter to earn a road win.
UND’s first-half performance, however, may have given the Hawks a false sense of security UND led 46-40 at the break and was shooting roughly 50 percent.
Western Illinois, which survived foul trouble much of the second half, had a productive third quarter, outscoring the Hawks 21-11 as the Leathernecks -- led by Danni Nichols’ 24 points -- scored on drives to the basket and 3-pointers.
A Nichols basket at 5:57 of the third gave Western Illinois a 71-63 advantage.
UND rallied, however, and closed to within 72-71 with 3:11 left on two Claire Orth free throws.
Western, however, hit the biggest basket of the game when Sam Pryor drilled a triple for the corner -- a shot rushed to beat the shot clock with 1:50 to go. The Leathernecks then closed out the game at the free-throw line
Julia Fleecs led UND with 14 points while Olivia Lane and Jaclyn Jarnot each added 10.
On Friday night, UND’s 79-57 win over the Leathernecks was the Hawks’ largest margin of victory in a league game since 2015.
Early on, it appeared UND was on course to duplicate that feat.
“It definitely wasn’t our best basketball,” said Fleecs. “It came down to rebounding and the defensive side of things. We really focused all week on not fouling and we got into a foul battle. In the third quarter, they would put their heads down and drive on us. We just needed to play solid hands-off defense and rebound.
“We know what our game is and we played that (Friday) night. We know what we need to work on.”