In the second quarter, UND committed only three turnovers. The result? The Fighting Hawks were in the game against perennial Summit League contender South Dakota State.
In the third quarter, UND committed six turnovers in the first five minutes. The result? SDSU ran out to a 14-point lead -- a run that decided the outcome.
SDSU capitalized on 23 UND turnovers in taking a 74-61 win over the Hawks on Thursday night before 1,394 fans at The Betty. The loss was UND’s fourth straight and dropped the Hawks to 5-8 in the Summit and 14-12 overall. SDSU improved to 12-2 and 20-8.
Still, UND’s performance was much better against the Jacks than it was in Brookings last month during a 99-64 shellacking.
And that may be an encouraging sign as the Summit League tournament is on the horizon.
“We’re getting better but it’s not as fast as people want,” said UND coach Travis Brewster. “You have to have patience, discipline and faith and I’ve got all three of those things in this team.”
UND 31-28 at the half. It was two solid quarters for the Hawks, who shot well (56 percent in the first quarter), held their own on the boards and forced the Jacks into an up-tempo style of play.
“North Dakota does a good job of speeding up teams,” said SDSU coach Aaron Johnston. “We were a little out of control offensively and that’s not our style. In the second half, we had more composure. We tried to slow it down and run a few more sets. And I thought we defended really well.”
Melissa Leet, a 6-foot-6 junior who missed a good portion of the season with a hand injury, returned to the lineup and was a factor defensively. Her free throws with 7:43 left in the third quarter cut the Jacks’ lead to 34-30.
But SDSU responded with a 14-2 run to seal the win. UND turnovers figured heavily in the Jacks’ spurt.
“They went on a nice run on us because we didn’t take care of the basketball,” said Brewster.
SDSU placed six players in double figures -- led by former Wahpeton standout Tylee Irwin’s 15 points.
UND was led by freshman Kacie Borowicz, who ended with 19 points, making 8 of 9 from the field. Julia Fleecs added 13.
UND shot 46 percent and held its own on the boards against the taller Jacks (30-29 rebounding edge for SDSU). But the Hawks couldn’t overcome their 23 turnovers.
SDSU also outscored UND 22-14 in the third quarter.
“We really struggle in the third quarter,” said Borowicz. “I don’t know why that is. We usually play a pretty solid first 20 minutes.”
UND now turns its attention toward North Dakota State on Sunday.
“Brew always talks about putting 40 minutes together and I felt we fell short in the third quarter,” said Fleecs. “That’s been a pattern for us for us the past few games. So finding the full 40 minutes is what we really have to focus on.”