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Hawks break through, down Western Illinois for first win of the season

UND has more offensive rebounds than defensive boards in 79-57 win

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UND players and coaches celebrate their victory over Western Illinois Friday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Before Friday night’s game against Western Illinois, UND had gone 334 days without a women’s basketball win.

That drought, mercifully, ended when the Hawks downed Western Illinois 79-57 at The Betty, where interim coach Mallory Bernhard -- a former UND standout -- picked up her first collegiate win.

It’s been a season like no other for UND, which came into the game 0-13. The win didn’t change that, but it was a start in the right direction for a program with a storied history.

“This win is incredibly rewarding,” said Bernhard, who received the customary locker-room drenching from her players.

“This team has been incredible all year. They come ready every single week. We know we’ve been close in so many games but were unable to pull it off. I wanted a win so badly for them, just to get that feeling of joy in the locker room rather than, ‘Hey, if we made one more play.’ I couldn’t be more happy for them.”

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Julia Fleecs led UND with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Megan Zander added 16 and Jaclyn Jarnot recorded 12 off the bench in addition to 10 rebounds for the double-double.

“I’m so excited; it feels so good to get this win,” said Jarnot. “We’ve come so close in so many games. We knew we had it in us. We just had to keep our composure.”

Some composure was necessary in the second half.

UND led by 17 points in the first half, only to see the Leathernecks shoot their way back into contention behind a barrage of 3-pointers.

UND led 27-10 early in the second quarter before Western Illinois clawed back behind the long ball. Midway through the third quarter, WIU was 10-for-20 from 3-point range and trailed 44-41. But UND shot its way to a comfort zone early in the fourth quarter when Fleecs and Zander hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers for a 68-50 advantage with seven minutes to play. That was part of an 18-4 UND run in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.

UND shot only 35 percent but the Hawks -- the best rebounding team in the Summit -- outboarded WIU 57-30. And the Hawks finished with this rare stat -- they had more offensive boards (29) than defensive (28) -- leading to a 26-0 advantage in second-chance points.

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“We were outbrounded in our last two games down in Brookings,” said Bernhard. “We’re the league leader in rebounding and that’s something we’ve been good at all year. That got to us, that we got outrebounded twice at South Dakota State. So, we came into this week making that our emphasis.”

UND is now 1-7 in the Summit and has a chance to sweep the Leathernecks (2-7, 3-14) on Saturday night. The guard-oriented Leathernecks, who hit 12 of 30 from 3-point range, were led by Carla Flores’ 14 points.

There will be no more talk of a winless season; that’s perhaps the biggest takeaway from the win.

“The zero started to mount a little bit,” said Bernhard. “There were some games where we were right there. And the pressure toward the end of those games ... we just couldn’t get over the hump.

“We had a big lead in the first half and they cut into it in the third quarter. But tonight we really responded.”

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 wnelson@gfherald.com.
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