Pesky Mayville State sticks close early on with 3-pointers, but UND prevails, 87-66
UND used a stingy inside defense and an offensive surge in the four minutes before halftime to earn the non-conference win over the NAIA Division II Comets.
GRAND FORKS — For 10 minutes, over a span that started in the second quarter and lasted until midway into the third, UND held Mayville State to zero points on baskets inside the 3-point line during their women’s basketball game Monday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Great defense inside, right?
UND coach Mallory Bernhard isn’t so sure.
“How many threes did we give up in that time?” Bernhard asked when told of the defensive streak. “I would argue that we probably weren’t defending the 3-point line in that stretch as well as we wanted to. … I guess I can’t be too upset – if we weren’t giving up easy looks, that’s good, too. It’s a double-edged sword, a little bit.”
Mayville State’s 3-point effort notwithstanding, UND rode its stingy defense down low and an offensive surge in the four minutes before halftime to earn an 87-66 non-conference win over the NAIA Division II Comets.
Mayville State hit on nine of 21 attempts from behind the 3-point line, using deep shots to stay close early on. UND actually made more shots from deep – going 11-of-29 – but Mayville had a run of 3-pointers to at least make things interesting in what some probably would consider a warmup game for Division I UND before it heads into conference play next week.
Mayville scored on three straight 3-pointers midway into the first quarter – two from Kayla Rocholl and one from Greta Hillukka – to take a 12-9 lead. In the second quarter, the Comets stuck around with 3-pointers from Hillukka, Erin Walcker and Thompson native Makenzie Hughes. Hughes’ shot cut UND’s lead to 35-30 with 2:40 before halftime, but UND dominated after that, paced by the play of senior guard Kacie Borowicz.
Borowicz scored nine points in the final four minutes of the second quarter and finished the first half with 15.
Mayville State coach Dennis Hutter said the Comets' high volume of 3-pointers was by design.
“We actually wanted to get 40 3-pointers up tonight,” he said. “It was tough to get inside because of their size, and their guards are physical. They’re not going to pressure you hard, but when you try to go downhill, they bump you and don’t let you turn the corner.”
In the third quarter, UND went up by 20 early on, allowing Bernhard to rotate a number of players into the game. A highlight came with 5:39 left in the third quarter when Borowicz, a senior from Roseau, Minnesota, hit a jumper from about 12 feet out to score her 1,000th career point. When she hit it, Bernhard immediately called timeout and the accomplishment was noted by the game’s PA announcer.
“I kind of knew I was getting there but I didn’t know when it would happen. … It’s pretty special. I’m happy to get it at North Dakota,” Borowicz said.
As a team, she said, UND doesn’t see much zone defense.
“But that being the case (Monday), we executed well. Mayville always plays hard and gives us a little bit of a run for our money,” she said. “It’s always a test for us.”
Borowicz had 28 points to lead all scorers, while UND also got 12 points from Nakiyah Hurst, 11 from Maggie Manson and nine from Jolene Daninger. The Fighting Hawks were 29-of-68 from the field, 18-of-22 from the free-throw line and had 44 rebounds. Borowicz also had six assists.
Mayville State’s Jordan Zrust had 13 points and nine rebounds, while Hughes had 12 points, Walcker had 11, Jes Mertens had 10 and Rocholl had eight. The Comets were 19-of-48 from the field, 19-of-28 from the line and had 31 rebounds.
“I think our team has learned the lesson well enough that we’re not going to take anybody lightly,” Bernhard said of playing Mayville State, which has an enrollment of approximately 900 students. “We came in today saying that defensive intensity was going to be huge. We watched film on Mayville and they’re an incredibly hard-working team. They play hard, plain and simple. We had to match their intensity from the get-go.”
UND now has won five straight and improves to 7-3 on the season. Next, the Hawks open Summit League play by hosting St. Thomas on Dec. 19.
Mayville State falls to 8-3, and it doesn’t get any easier this week. On Wednesday, the Comets host 6-4 NDSU, another Division I program.
“We don't come up here thinking we're going to shock the world,” Hutter said after Monday’s loss, “but we think these games will help us get better.”