Hawks hold WIU scoreless in second quarter, roll to Summit League win
UND wins seventh straight, improves to 2-0 in league
GRAND FORKS – UND basketball fans leaving The Betty on Tuesday night had to deal with a temperature of 24 below zero and a wind chill of minus-41 degrees.
Those fans, however, witnessed something colder inside the home of the Fighting Hawks.
Western Illinois’ second-quarter offense, with a big assist from the UND defense, was colder than the Grand Forks temperature. UND held Western Illinois scoreless in the second quarter en route to a 69-53 women’s basketball win over the Leathernecks, a win that improved the Hawks to 2-0 in the Summit League and 9-3 overall. It was UND’s seventh-straight win as well.
Since the NCAA went to the quarter system for women’s basketball in 2015, UND had never held an opponent scoreless in a quarter. UND led 34-11 at the half, and that was the lowest point total by a UND opponent in program history.
UND’s shutout defense in the second quarter was the difference. It was pretty much status quo the rest of the game.
“That’s pretty incredible,” said UND coach Mallory Bernhard of the Hawks’ defense. “Going back, that’s a lot of years and a lot of good teams we’ve played against. That’s something to be proud of.”
UND’s focus throughout the nonconference season was its defense. And its first-half defense was on display against Western Illinois (0-2, 5-8).
“We were locked in on defense, doing what we needed to do,” said the UND coach. “They got some looks that they’re capable of hitting, for sure. But it helped that we were flying around and making everything tough.”
UND’s attention to defense this season has been solid, especially at The Betty where the Hawks have won six of their seven games by double digits.
UND’s offense again was proficient, led by Kacie Borowicz, who scored 25 points. Freshman Nakiyah Hurst added 19, playing 21 minutes as she continues to be a tough post matchup for opponents.
And Claire Orth finished with 13 points, shooting 50 percent.
UND will be off until Dec.31 when they play at North Dakota State. After that, the Hawks will play at South Dakota and South Dakota State – the most difficult road swing of the Summit.
But the Hawks are on a roll. UND’s 7-0 home record is its best start since the 2013-14 season.
“We’re feeling good; we’re sharing the ball, running well in transition and things are clicking,” said Orth. “But we have to keep executing and keep getting better because, obviously, it’s early in the season.”
With another decisive win, UND also was able to play a number of players again. Nine UND players were on the court for 10 or more minutes.
“That was really important for us,” said Borowicz. “We need to get as many people playing as much as they can.”