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UND WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Third times a charm for Sioux in win over Utah Valley in GWC championship

CHICAGO - As a 25-year veteran, there aren't many accomplishments UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck had yet to achieve. On Saturday, Roebuck garnered one of the few fleeting milestones. After losing the past two league championship games,...

UND women's basketball
North Dakota's Cnay Mothershed (3) shoots between Utah Valley guard Cydne Mason, left, and Taylor Huber, as Madi Buck (13) watches during the first half of the Great West conference tournament championship NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 10, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO - As a 25-year veteran, there aren't many accomplishments UND women's basketball coach Gene Roebuck had yet to achieve.

On Saturday, Roebuck garnered one of the few fleeting milestones.

After losing the past two league championship games, Roebuck, who has won more than 600 career games with the Sioux, earned his first Great West Conference tournament title.

UND centers Allyssa Wall and Emily Evers combined to score 30 points to lead the Sioux to a 69-56 win over Utah Valley in the championship game in the Jones Convocation Center on the campus of Chicago State.

"That's why we have an advantage over quite a bit of teams in our league," Roebuck said. "We have two posts who would start for any team in the league. They're both tough to guard, can catch the ball in traffic and can finish. The nice thing is one is a sophomore and one is a freshman."

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The Sioux now wait to find out who they play in the first round of the WBI tournament. UND could host the game, a decision Roebuck expects to come Monday.

Evers, a freshman, turned in a career-high with a team-high 16 points, while the sophomore Wall churned out 14 points and nine rebounds. Both players finished on the all-tournament team, with Wall receiving tournament MVP honors.

"I have a lot of respect for their posts," UVU coach Cathy Nixon said. "They have big, strong kids who work hard. They have a balanced scoring attack, though. If you leave one player open, you hope it doesn't come back to bite you."

UND's post depth was especially rewarding for the Sioux, as they were upset by Utah Valley in the 2010 championship game. In that title game, UND post Whitney Ledger got in foul trouble and the Wolverines were able to battle back from a 17-point deficit.

This time, though, the Sioux had a strong 1-2 punch inside with Wall and Evers.

"We knew we'd be taller, but we didn't know if we'd have a big advantage," said Evers, a Grand Forks native. "We knew we'd be ready for the challenge."

The Sioux outscored the Wolverines 32-16 in the post.

"They're very big and physical," said UVU forward Sammie Jensen, the Great West Player of the Year who finished with seven points. "It's different going up against a good basketball team like that late in the year."

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The Sioux took control with about five minutes remaining. After UVU's Abbie Beutler hit a jumper to cut the UND lead to 58-49, the Sioux fired back with a 9-0 run.

"It's disappointing because we want to keep playing," Nixon said. "This is a real special team. All of us wanted to keep going. I couldn't be any more proud of the girls. North Dakota is a very good team. Our girls were battling in there. That's what's satisfying to me."

Roebuck, meanwhile, was satisfied by achieving the third of his team's three goals. The Sioux set out this year to win the conference regular season, become the first UND team in the Division I era to win 20 games and win the program's first Great West championship.

"Now we have an opportunity to play in the WBI," Roebuck said.

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to tmiller@gfherald.com .

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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