OGDEN, Utah-- North Dakota used a 47-33 rebounding advantage to help pull out a 56-51 win over winless Weber State Thursday night in Big Sky Conference play. It was the first road victory for UND in conference play.
A 12-0 run just after the start of the game got UND out in front comfortably and the visitors led by as many as 15 in the opening half. Weber State (0-20, 0-11 Big Sky), however, would not go away quietly.
Carly Rothfusz' triple from the top of the key gave North Dakota a 26-11 advantage until the Wildcats clawed their way back before halftime. Nine straight WSU points got it back within a half-dozen before Megan Lauck's trey helped UND get into the locker room clinging to a 29-22 edge at the break.
North Dakota (9-11, 4-7) shot just 33.3 percent for the game and gave the ball up 25 times on turnovers so winning the hustle battles became key in earning the road win. Among those was UND's distinct rebounding edge, despite being down a few post players due to injury. With Katie Houdek not making the trip due to injury and Emily Evers sitting with an injured left ankle during last Saturday's win, North Dakota turned to a freshman to take on a bigger load in the middle.
Mia Loyd made her first career start Thursday and while she scored just two points, the Minneapolis, Minn. native grabbed 10 rebounds-- including five on the offensive glass-- to help UND grind out the win.
UND could never quite bury the Wildcats in the second half as WSU cut the lead down to a single possession on several occasions. Kia Rhodes' three with 4:44 to play sliced the lead down to three at 44-41. A Nicole Smart layup in transition and later a Madi Buck drive and score got it back to a half-dozen advantage with 2:08 to play.
Kalie Matthews scored two of her game-high 18 points on a putback as WSU rallied in an attempt to claim its first win of the season. Siri Burck connected on a three-pointer from the left wing for the answer and UND made 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute to hang on for the 56-51 win.
Burck's triple was one of two for the game for a career-best nine points in the win. Lauck led UND with 16 points while Brianna Williams had seven points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks for North Dakota.
Weber State's leading scorer coming in, Jalen Carpenter, had just three points after getting into foul trouble early. Regina Okoye, who led the conference in steals heading into the game, did not record a steal and had just two points, fouling out in 13 minutes of action.
UND-- winners of two straight-- heads to Idaho State to battle the Bengals on Saturday afternoon to wrap up the road trip.
Notes: North Dakota earned the series sweep with the win after a 73-49 home win back on Jan. 5 ... UND will try to earn its second series sweep Saturday against ISU ... UND has not been outrebounded in a game since a Jan. 10 loss at Montana (six games) ... North Dakota moves just a game behind idle Southern Utah for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Big Sky Conference standings.