Hawks hope to make some noise in Summit League women's basketball tournament

UND opens with Oral Roberts in first round

UND WI wbb2.jpg
UND's Olivia Lane dribbles past Western Illinois defenders in the first half of a game earlier this season at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The Hawks open Summit League postseason play Sunday against Oral Roberts.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – UND has been the surprise of the Summit League women's basketball season. After going 2-19 last season, the Hawks turned the tables, finishing the regular season at 15-14 and a 9-9 in the league.

They were the best Summit story going midway through the season, going on a six-game win streak to propel them to third place in the league standings.

The question now is this: Can the Hawks make some more noise in this weekend’s Summit League tournament at the Denny Sanford Premier Center?

If they do and don't win the Summit, the Hawks may be in consideration for some type of postseason play as their record does already qualify them for tournaments other than the NCAA Tournament. But it’s believed UND has not yet been contacted by any non-NCAA tournament, such as the WNIT and WBI.

The fifth-seeded Hawks meet No. 4 Oral Roberts on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., with the winner to meet No. 1 seed South Dakota State on Monday.


UND and ORU split this season, each winning on its home floor. The Hawks won decisively at The Betty in January, winning 52-34. ORU won 89-73 in Tulsa late in the season.

In UND’s win, the Hawks weren’t particularly effective on offense but played perhaps their best defensive game of the season. Melissa Leet, UND’s 6-foot-6 senior center scored only three points but nearly finished with a double-double as she grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked nine shots.

And the Hawks were led offensively by junior guard Kacie Borowicz, who scored 21 points. She’s UND’s leading scorer and was named to the all-Summit first team earlier this week. She also ranks second in the country in free throw percentage (96.3 percent)..

If the Hawks get to the line a lot, UND’s chances of winning improve as it ranks No.9 in NCAA Division I free throw percentage (79 percent).

ORU will be led by Tirzah Moore’s 14.8 points per game. She also was named the league’s freshman of the year.

UND coach Mallory Bernhard started the season as the program’s full-time coach after serving as interim coach during the 2-19 campaign.

That made a big difference for the Hawks, who improved by 13 wins this season.

UND’s season turned the corner on Jan. 1 when the Hawks played a competitive game at league blue blood South Dakota State.


“We started to see what this team was capable of doing,” said Bernhard. “We felt like we had put things together. We saw a game plan that was executed really well and it gave us an opportunity to win in a great environment against a really good team.”

UND stayed on that course the rest of the season.

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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