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UND women's basketball team looks ahead to Reno

UND has won five Big Sky Conference games this season in 16 attempts. Three of those wins, however, have come against league-leading Northern Colorado, Weber State and Eastern Washington.

Weber and Eastern Washington are in a tie for third place.

On the surface, UND's 5-11 Big Sky record and 12-15 overall mark may not be that impressive as the Fighting Hawks close out their regular season at home tonight against Sacramento State and Friday against Portland State.

But the Fighting Hawks have beaten the better teams in the league. With that, now is the appropriate time to look ahead to next week's league tournament in Reno, Nev., where 12 teams will compete for a chance at reaching the NCAA Tournament.

"For us, it shows that when we play a bigger game, our ability is there,," said UND coach Travis Brewster. "In my opinion, this group thrives a little more on pressure. But you want them to compete that way all the time. That's been the challenge for us all year."

UND nearly knocked off Northern Colorado last week on the road as well, so it's not like the Hawks are headed to Reno overwhelmed.

Heading into the final week of play, only Northern Colorado has clinched a first-round bye in Reno. Seven teams remain alive for the three other first-round byes. A No. 9 seed is the best UND can achieve for the tournament.

A big factor for UND heading into the final two week of the season is the health of forward Fallyn Freije, who has missed the past four games with an ankle injury. She's averaging 14.0 points and 8.2 rebounds and gives the Hawks a strong inside game along with leading scorer Lexi Klabo (18.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg).

"You have to start looking ahead to Reno," said Brewster. "It's all about competing. That's what it comes down to at this time of the year."

Sacramento State at UND

• When: Today, 7 p.m.

• Where: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center

• Records: UND 5-11 (Big Sky), 12-15 overall; Sacramento 4-12, 6-21

• TV/Radio: MidcoSN, 100.3 FM

• Of note: Last week, UND's Lexi Klabo grabbed 17 rebounds at Northern Colorado, becoming just the sixth player in program history to notch at least 17 rebounds twice in a game during a career (Ashley Langen, 5, Jenny Crouse 4, Mia Loyd 3, Pam Solseth 2, Kami Winger 2)

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
(701) 780-1268