UND athletic hall of fame: A win that went a long way
Midway through the second half, the prospects of reaching the Elite Eight in 1997 were fading for the UND women's basketball team. Unbeaten North Dakota State, gunning for its 29th straight win, was headed for the North Central Region title and b...
Midway through the second half, the prospects of reaching the Elite Eight in 1997 were fading for the UND women's basketball team.
Unbeaten North Dakota State, gunning for its 29th straight win, was headed for the North Central Region title and berth in yet another Division II Elite Eight national tournament. More heartbreak appeared to be headed UND's way based on its past frustration in games against NDSU.
In the game's final 10 minutes, however, UND pulled off the improbable. The Sioux went on a massive run and beat the Bison 73-66, earning the region's Elite Eight berth.
From there, the Sioux went on to win three straight national championships.
UND's regional win broke NDSU's stranglehold on Division II basketball. It also launched UND's run to national prominence.
"That was the most fun game I ever played in," said Tiffany Pudenz-Mannausau, who scored 33 points against the Bison. "That was the first time I had beaten the Bison. The national championships were fun. But for us, we finally got over hump by winning that game."
The 1997 UND women's basketball team will enter the UND Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend. Pudenz Mannausau, who was a junior on that team, will enter the hall of fame individually along with former Sioux hockey standout Ed Belfour.
The 1997 team will be honored tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a fan appreciation gathering at Playmakers All-American Lounge.
"That team did the improbable and that was beating an undefeated team on their floor," UND coach Gene Roebuck said of the Sioux win in Fargo. "That win got us to the Elite Eight but it also gave us an opportunity to start believing in ourselves. In a lot of those games against NDSU, we beat ourselves. All of a sudden, we beat them when nobody expected us to beat them.
"I have so much respect for that (1997) team. I remember calling a timeout with five minutes to go and we were down 10 points. I told them to keep their chins up and keep going. We came out of a timeout and Kelli Britz banked in a 3-pointer to cut it to 7 points. After that, we went crazy."
Pudenz-Mannausau, a junior at the time, recalled that depth was the team's strength, even though it had future All-American Jenny Crouse as a freshman center.
"Jenny was always awesome," Pudenz-Mannausau said. "But at that time, she hadn't developed into a true star. That team didn't have a true star. We played as a team. If one person was off, someone else stepped up."
Roebuck said he expects most of the '97 team to attend tonight's event.
"Hopefully, our fans can come out and relive the moments," Roebuck said. "The Elite Eight that year was a great experience for us and our fans."
Members of the 1997 team were Tiffany Pudenz-Mannausau, Jenny Crouse, Jaime Pudenz, Allison Derck, Anna Feit, Krissi Super, Pernilla Jonsson, Kami Winger, Kelli Britz, Elisha Kabanuk, Casey Carroll, Katie Richards and Elisabeth Melin.
Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to email@example.com .