Game notes: Season finale at SUU Saturday
Courtesy: Mitch Wigness, UND Media Relations
SITE: Cedar City, Utah
RADIO: KSNR 100.3 FM (Mitch Wigness)
WEB AUDIO: UNDSports.com
WEB VIDEO: BigSkyTV.org
LIVE STATS: UNDSports.com or SUUtbirds.com
North Dakota will close its 2012-13 schedule with a road tilt at Southern Utah University Saturday. Depending on outcomes earlier in the week, this game could potentially decide if SUU can qualify for the Big Sky Conference Tournament (UND can still tie for seventh, but does not have the tiebreakers necessary).
SERIES HISTORY ... SOUTHERN UTAH
Overall: Tied, 1-1
Streak: SUU- W1
Last: SUU 60 at UND 54 (Dec. 20, 2012)
*This will be the first game in the series on SUU’s home floor. UND won in a neutral-court affair last season.
*Both teams are in their first season as Big Sky Conference members
LAST WEEK’S ACTION
Eastern Washington led by as many as 16 in the second half but had to withstand a valiant comeback effort in the closing minutes to claim a 67-58 road win over North Dakota Saturday afternoon in Big Sky Conference play. Megan Lauck’s steal and cross-court bucket along with her free-throw make sliced the Eagle advantage down to just five, but UND got no closer and EWU temporarily moved into sole possession of third place in the league standings.
UND had three players in double figures scoring, led by Lauck’s 14 with 11 more from Dillon and 10 from Katie Houdek. Smart finished with nine points, five rebounds and five assists with just one turnover, playing nearly the entire game at the point guard spot. Madi Buck contributed seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
EARLIER THIS YEAR WITH SUU
UND trimmed a 10-point second-half advantage to a single point in the final minute but SUU escaped with the road win in the Big Sky Conference opener on Dec. 20, 2012.
It was a back-and-forth, scrappy affair that saw the lead change hands 11 times with eight more ties scores as the two Big Sky rookies battled for its first win in league play. Southern Utah (6-4, 1-0) benefitted from a nearly six-minute stretch without a UND field goal in scoring 11 straight points for a nine-point cushion at 47-38 with 9:14 left.
Emily Evers and Nicole Smart each had 13 points to pace UND, while Mia Loyd added a career-high 10 points off the bench. North Dakota outscored its opponent 22-10 in the paint, but Madi Buck picked up three personal fouls in as many possessions in the second half to further deplete an already thin roster at the post position. Buck finished with a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with five points, five steals and four assists.
Southern Utah was led by Hailey Mandelko’s 11 points while Kimie Hawkins chipped-in seven points and nine rebounds.
SCOUTING THE THUNDERBIRDS
Southern Utah will be wrapping-up a crazy stretch of games in Saturday’s finale. UND will have played just one game in the time that SUU had to play three games over the final two weeks ... The T’Birds played at Montana (Thursday), then at Montana State (Monday) before a Thursday, Mar. 7 game at home with Northern Colorado ... As of Wednesday, SUU is tied for 7th in the Big Sky standings, clinging to that final playoff spot ... If SUU loses to UNC Thursday, UND could keep SUU out of the tournament with a win ... Southern Utah is led by Hailey Mandelko’s 11.8 points per game in a balanced attack that sees four Thunderbirds with at least eight points per game (Kimmie Hawkins- 9.2, Andrea Jones- 8.9, Carli Moreland- 8.4) ... SUU is second in the league in scoring (70.0 ppg) and is the top rebounding squad in the Big Sky (+6.9 rebounding margin per game).
Saturday’s game will mark the final games for a pair of UND seniors who have each been with the North Dakota program since the transitional period.
Smart, from Ada, Minn., has missed just one game in her entire UND career, making 75 starts in four seasons. Nicole has 723 career points and 114 three-pointers in a North Dakota uniform. Her career free-throw percentage (.811) ranks fourth in school history. She scored a career-high 21 points with five triples in a win last season at Chicago State. She was an All-Great West Conference Second Team honoree last season. This year, Smart leads the team averaging 31.1 minutes per game and has averages of 7.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. She is a Visual Arts major.
Rothfusz, from Eden Prairie, Minn., has missed just two games in her four seasons at UND. She recently went over the 400-point plateau in her career and has established new single-game highs in rebounds, assists, steal and blocks this season. She recorded career bests with 15 points in wins over Houston Baptist and Chicago State last season. She averages 3.4 points and 1.9 rebounds per game for her career. She is an elementary education major.
TWO AND OH IN UTAH
UND has to like its chances in the state of Utah, as two of North Dakota’s three road wins come in the Beehive State. UND beat the Pac 12’s Utah on Dec. 29 and later ousted Weber State in conference play for a 2-0 record in Utah this season.
Emily Evers is third in the Big Sky Conference in field goal percentage heading into the final week of the regular season. The sophomore has a .533 field goal percentage, ranking just ahead of SUU’s Carli Moreland (.524).
Evers is also among the leaders in blocked shots per game. Evers has 47 blocks (1.8 bpg) and with a productive Saturday could move into second (Katie Baker, UM- 1.9). The league leader is Sacramento State’s Megan Kritscher at 3.8 bpg, which ranks third in the nation.
Junior Megan Lauck is second in the conference in free throw percentage with her .810 mark heading into Saturday. She just misses out on the required number of attempts to qualify for the national rankings, but that percentage would place her in the top 80 in all of NCAA Division I this season.
UND has had ten different players in its starting five at some point this season. Only junior Allyssa Wall and freshman Josie Dillon have not made a start this season for UND. Senior Nicole Smart and junior Madi Buck are the only two players to start every contest this season. UND has had 10 different starting five combinations this season.
Limiting turnovers has been the key thus far for success as UND is 6-0 when it turns the ball over 15 times or less this season. Additionally, North Dakota has won its last six games in which it its opponent has equal or more turnovers this season.
WON’T BACK DOWN
Through its first 12 games, UND played a pair of teams that made the NCAA Tournament and six more that advanced to the WNIT last year.
NCAA- Iowa State, Idaho State; WNIT- Harvard, Duquesne, South Florida, Drake, Northern Colorado, Utah.
BUCK STARTS HERE
Junior forward Madi Buck was recognized as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week Jan. 2 for her performance in UND’s 62-56 upset win at Utah Dec. 29. The Bismarck, N.D. native scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds to go along with a career-high five blocked shots in the win. She became the second North Dakota player to earn the award after Emily Evers grabbed honors earlier in the season.
“CENTER” OF ATTENTION
Sophomore center Emily Evers was named co-Big Sky Conference Player of the Week Dec. 10. Evers broke out in the win over Air Force last Tuesday by establishing new career bests with 17 points and 15 rebounds in the blowout victory over the Falcons. She also added two assists and a pair of blocks in just 14 minutes of action. She followed that performance with another 17-point effort in Saturday’s overtime win against Drake. She notched yet another double-double-- her third of her career-- with 10 rebounds as well. Evers chipped-in four blocks and two steals and sealed the win in the final second of overtime with a free throw make.
UND’s OVERTIME OVER TIME
Before its Dec. 8 win over Drake, North Dakota had not played in an overtime contest since a 81-79 win at South Dakota back on Jan. 13, 2007. Saturday, UND took a 64-60 defeat in overtime at Northern Arizona for its first OT loss since Mar. 15, 2004 in the NCAA Division II North Central Regional Final against South Dakota State (72-70). All time, UND is now 14-10 in games decided in extra frames, including a perfect 3-0 mark when it goes beyond one extra period.
A BIT ABOUT LAST SEASON (21-11)
The University of North Dakota women’s basketball team picked up the Great West Conference regular-season and postseason tournament titles, winning nine straight games to finish 9-1 in league play ... Center Allyssa Wall (North Sioux City, S.D.) was named to the GWC All-Tournament team and was voted the tournament’s most valuable player ... Also named to the all-tournament team was center Emily Evers (Grand Forks, N.D.), who averaged a team-high 13.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and shot 74.4 percent from the field ... UND advanced to its first-ever NCAA Division I postseason play, heading to Seattle University for the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).
The University of North Dakota women’s basketball program holds an 815-326 (.714) record all-time since the first game was played in 1974.
The season-opening loss to Harvard pushed UND’s record in season openers to 29-8 all-time. North Dakota is now 19-5 in season openers at home, including losses each of the past two seasons.
The home opener is the start of a very challenging part of UND’s schedule. Each of the first four opponents qualified for a postseason tournament a season ago. In addition, only one of those games is at home for UND (vs. Harvard). Iowa State went to the NCAA Tournament while Harvard, Duquesne and South Florida all competed in the WNIT.
PROTECT AND SERVE
All-time, North Dakota is 445-93 (.827) when it comes to defending its own court. The team played at the UND Fieldhouse/Hyslop Sports Center before moving into its current home at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in 2004-05.
YOU BETTY, YOU BETTY, YOU BET!
North Dakota is 111-23 (.828) all-time at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, which opened prior to the 2004-05 season.
Season records at ‘The Betty’
2004-05 -------------------- 13-2
2005-06 -------------------- 19-1
2006-07 -------------------- 17-2
2007-08 -------------------- 14-1
2008-09 -------------------- 13-0
2009-10 -------------------- 8-4
2010-11 -------------------- 9-5
2011-12 -------------------- 10-3
2012-13 -------------------- 8-6
UND FIFTH, SIXTH IN BIG SKY POLLS
UND was picked to finish fifth by the media and sixth by the coaches in the 2012-13 Big Sky Conference preseason polls. After three seasons in the Great West Conference following its move to NCAA Division I, UND enters its first season in the league.
The top four spots were identical in both polls with Idaho State, the defending Big Sky regular season and tournament champion, grabbing the top position. Northern Colorado was the runner-up with Montana and Montana State slotted third and fourth, respectively, in both polls.
This year’s slate includes 16 total home games (two exhibitions),10 games against postseason teams (NCAA- Idaho State (2), Iowa State; WNIT- No. Colorado (2), Drake, Duquesne, Harvard, South Florida, Utah), a re-kindling of the North Dakota State rivalry and the inaugural season of the Big Sky Conference. UND will play each Big Sky foe twice in home-and-home contests to make up 20 of North Dakota’s games this season.
BIG SKY TV
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CAN I GET A WIGNESS?
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