GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Junior Madi Buck (19 points overall) and senior Nicole Smart (14) combined for 24 second-half points to lead host North Dakota to a 62-55 win over third-place Montana State Thursday night in Big Sky Conference play. Buck-- who had just three points at the break-- tripled three times early in the second stanza alone en route to a 19-point, 11-rebound night.
It was solid defense that helped UND stay close in the first half as North Dakota only allowed 24 first-half points. It was its second-half start, though, that pushed UND into the lead and gave the home team its 10th overall win.|
Trailing by one at the break, UND got long-range buckets from Smart and Buck to grab all of the momentum and a quick five-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half. UND would not relinquish the lead from that point on to give UND a split in the season series with the Bobcats.
That lead, although never switching hands, also never grew to more than seven until the final minutes with the feisty Bobcats not going away quietly. With the lead at four, Cy'erra Mills stole a ball in the backcourt and raced to the other end for another half-dozen advantage with UND generating offense from its defense. Latisha Adams scored the next two buckets for MSU, but UND refused to give MSU an opportunity to stage a comeback, making 12 of its next 14 attempts to keep the visitors at bay.
After 17 first-half turnovers hampered UND, the second half produced just eight miscues for the winners sending MSU to its fourth-straight defeat. UND got production in some fashion from nearly all parts of its lineup Thursday. Sophomore Emily Evers had four blocked shots in the first half alone to frustrate the Bobcat interior players and senior Carly Rothfusz chipped-in five rebounds and four points off-the-bench in 20 solid minutes. Her drive to the rim with her switching hands to her right helped push the lead back to seven in the final three minutes in a key stretch.
UND's defensive effort, which limited MSU's interior opportunities, complemented the home team's strong perimeter scoring. North Dakota held MSU leading-scorer Rachel Semansky to just nine points while second-leading scorer Kalli Durham mustered seven points in the loss.
North Dakota will host league-leading Montana Saturday afternoon at the Betty. Tip time is set for 2:00 p.m.