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UND women's basketball: Toledo takes it to Sioux

There was one consolation for the UND women's basketball team following its loss to Toledo on Saturday afternoon: The Great West Conference season is two weeks away.

There was one consolation for the UND women's basketball team following its loss to Toledo on Saturday afternoon: The Great West Conference season is two weeks away.

It's going to be a welcomed change for the Sioux, who are nearing the end of a brutal non-conference schedule.

Toledo, behind four players in double figures, dropped the Sioux to 3-11 with a 74-59 win over UND at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

It's been a unique season for the Sioux, who had become accustomed to successful non-conference games as a Division II power before transitioning to Division I during the 2008-09 season.

"No one likes losing, but we have to stay together," UND coach Gene Roebuck said. "We've played some really good teams. We've only played one team with a losing record. We need to stay positive. We still want to win the Great West Conference and the Great West tournament."

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The Sioux hung with Toledo (10-3) early, but UND couldn't overcome a 31.7 percent shooting performance. UND was just 4-for-21 from beyond the arc.

UND freshman Shyla Kuehl hit a turnaround jumper to cut Toledo's lead to 17-15 with 8 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Rockets, however, would respond with a 14-3 run to pull away. The Toledo run was capped by a pair of 3-pointers by point guard Naama Shafir, who finished with 16 points and nine assists.

Shafir was joined in double figures by Tanika Mays with 21, Allie Clifton with 11 and Melissa Goodall with 10.

Toledo pulled away in the second half. UND was as close as 37-30 early in the half, but the Rockets built leads of 44-30, 58-40 and 74-49.

The Sioux closed the game on a 10-0 run.

The Rockets shot 59.3 percent in the second half to UND's 30.3 percent.

"We need our perimeter players to make baskets," Roebuck said. "Our outside shooters aren't on the same page."

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Even UND leading scorer Mallory Youngblut, who had 19 points, knocked down just 1-for-8 from behind the arc.

"It comes down to repetitions," Youngblut said. "We have to get in the gym and take shots. We know we're great outside shooters and that it will come around."

The Sioux close out their non-conference schedule Monday with a game at Eastern Michigan.

UND will then return home to face Seattle on Friday. After that game, the Sioux begin a stretch of 12 games against Great West Conference opponents.

"We know we have a long ways to go, but we've definitely made improvements," Youngblut said. "The teams we've played have been tough. The conference is our goal. Those goals are still achievable."

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

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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