Hawks continue to roll as UND wins fifth-straight with 53-34 triumph over Oral Roberts University

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Fighting Hawks center Melissa Leet (5) and guard Maggie Manson (3) surround Oral Roberts' Hannah Cooper in the first quarter of a Summit League women's basketball game at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – It would be easy to compare Oral Roberts’ cold shooting to the weather outside The Betty on Thursday night. ORU’s 22 percent showing from the field was warmer than the outside temperature – minus-9 degrees with a minus-35 wind chill.

But the weather didn’t affect the team from Tulsa, Okla. UND’s 6-foot-6 center Melissa Leet and her teammates’ defense were the big reasons for the Hawks’ 53-34 Summit League win.

UND’s surprising mid-season surge continued as the Hawks won their fifth-straight game to improve to 5-3 in the league and 11-8 overall.

Leet blocked nine shots, altered a handful of others and also grabbed 12 rebounds – barely missing a rare rebound-blocked shot double-double.

“If you get nine blocked shots, how many more do you alter?” asked UND coach Mallory Bernhard. “She definitely made things difficult in there. She probably caused a lot of second-guessing. And our guards were disrupting things so we made just about every single shot difficult for them.


“I didn’t anticipate our defense being quite like that. That was probably the best I've seen our team play defensively. It was an incredible effort.”

ORU dropped to 4-3 in the Summit and 9-9 overall.The Golden Eagles were picked to finish in the top half of the league this season while UND was tabbed ninth. As the season approaches the midway point, UND now is in third place.

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UND guard Kacie Borowicz drives the ball down the court at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks in the first quarter of a Summit League basketball matchup against Oral Roberts on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The UND win streak may be surprising to many, but Leet said good chemistry has helped set the tone.

“Our chemistry is good right now,” said Leet. “At the beginning of the year, we had a few COVID issues and some injuries. We’re finally clicking. We’re understanding who’s good at what and what we can go with.”

UND led from start to finish. Kacie Borowicz, the Summit’s second-leading scorer, led the Hawks with 21 points while Claire Orth added 13 and Olivia Lane 11. And the Hawks outrebounded ORU 46-33.

UND’s biggest run was 9-0, that streak coming in the fourth quarter that sealed the win.

The Golden Eagles’ top scorers were Hannah Cooper and Trinity Moore as each had six.

But ORU made a little noise early in the fourth quarter. After trailing by 24, ORU went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 46-33.Borowicz hit a 3-pointer with 2:33 to go, ending any possibilities for ORU.


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Fighting Hawks guard Claire Orth (10) keeps the ball away from Oral Roberts' Keni Jo Lippe (33) in the first quarter of a Summit League women's basketball game at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

A low-scoring game may not have been expected since UND ranked eighth defensively in the Summit while ORU was fourth.

But UND came up with its best defensive game – by far – this season, giving the Hawks some more punch in their overall game as they seek their sixth-straight win Saturday against Kansas City.

“We expected them to transition a lot,” said Orth. “That’s something they’ve been good at in the past. So I think we did a good job in covering that up and it kind of got them frustrated offensively, which made them slow down. And our bigs did a really good job defending.”

Kansas City comes to The Betty on the heels of its road win at North Dakota State on Thursday.

“We can take this confidence into the next game but we also have to go in with a level mind and not settle for one win this week,” said Orth.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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