WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Vandals snap UND string
UND had won seven in a row before meeting Idaho on Saturday. Against the Vandals, however, UND's luck ran out. Idaho, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in Division I women's basketball, used the long ball to take a 65-59 win over the Fightin...
UND had won seven in a row before meeting Idaho on Saturday. Against the Vandals, however, UND's luck ran out.
Idaho, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in Division I women's basketball, used the long ball to take a 65-59 win over the Fighting Hawks before 1,526 fans at The Betty-a win that kept Idaho hot on the trail of Montana State in the race for the Big Sky Conference regular-season title. The second-place Vandals improved to 10-3 in the league and 18-7 overall.
UND, meanwhile, dropped to 8-5 and 12-12. However, the big picture didn't change much for the Hawks.
"It stings a little bit but the big picture is still there for us," said UND senior Mia Loyd. "We still have goals in front of us. We just have to keep battling."
Idaho may have derailed UND's win streak but the Hawks remain in decent shape for a top-four league finish, which guarantees a first-round bye in next month's Big Sky tournament.
"The loss bothered our players and it bothers me, too," said UND coach Travis Brewster. "I told them we'll get better. There is still a ways to go down this path. We just can't get too low or too high. It's a process."
UND, playing a fluid first half, led 35-29 at halftime. The Hawks used a 15-0 run to go up 33-22 with 4:10 left in the second quarter. That run was capped by back-to-back baskets by Samantha Roscoe, who led UND with 12 points.
But Idaho opened the second half with an 8-2 run, all the points coming from Christina Salvatore, who led the Vandals with 20 points. Overall, she was 4-of-8 on 3-point attempts. Idaho came into the game ranked fourth in Division I with 10.4 made 3-pointers per game. And they have the third-most made 3-pointers in Division I (258).
"We like to shoot the three and our players have the green light to shoot if they're open," said Idaho coach Jon Newlee.
Idaho made 9-of-17 three-pointers overall and led 57-49 on a Salvatore basket with 9:18 left.
Like UND did throughout its win streak, the Hawks crawled back into contention and trailed 62-59 when Loyd converted a steal into a layup with 53 seconds to go.
But the Hawks couldn't get any shots to drop in the closing seconds and the Vandals closed it out with three free throws from Geraldine McCorkell and Mikayla Ferenz.
"We did a better job of defending without fouling in the second half," added Newlee. "We didn't want to put them at the line because they get there a lot. We were better in transition defense and our shot selection was better in the second half, too."
UND's start to the second half was sluggish.
"We just need to be ready to go in the second half," added Loyd. "We played a good first half. We'll see them again; it's fine."
Idaho blitzed UND 92-65 in the league opener for both teams back in December.
"It's an improvement from the last time we played them," added Brewster. "They're a good ball club. But we just have to keep plugging away and get better. We can't give up big runs like we did. We have to scrap and compete. We have to create our own luck.
"Down the stretch, a couple of shots didn't go our way and we didn't crash the boards hard. It kind of shook us a bit. You just can't get rattled like that. You have to keep going. Looking at our team's growth, it's been impressive. But at the same time we have to improve."
UND came into the game with the highest RPI in the Big Sky (No. 118). Idaho was second at No. 147.
UND now hits the road for three of its final five league games, starting next Saturday at Northern Colorado.
"We just have to battle back from this one," said Loyd. "It's not something we haven't seen before."