"I think today was a good wakeup call for us," UND head coach Travis Brewster. "We've got to back to basics, it's how we approach the game mentally. SUU did a heck of a job tonight."
UND opened the game on a 6-0 run, but would make only three field goals the rest of the half as SUU took control of the game. The Thunderbirds responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead.
Buck briefly gave UND the lead back at 11-10, but that would be the last advantage the visitors would hold in this one.
SUU’s leading scorer Hailey Mandelko got off to a slow start, but heated up at the midway point of the first half. With her team holding a 16-13 advantage at the 8:31, Mandelko, who had been held scoreless, would tally the T-Bird’s next 15 points and help push their advantage to 33-24 at the break.
Mandelko’s capped that effort with her second three-pointer of the stanza that sparked a quick 5-0 run in the final minute to give SUU its largest lead at the break. Lori Parkinson, who scored nine points early for SUU, scored the final two points of the half on a fastbreak layup.
SUU took advantage of 14 first-half turnovers by UND, who also only shot 20 percent from the field. The T-Birds scored 12 points off those miscues in the opening 20 minutes, while UND could only turn 10 SUU turnovers into seven points.
Buck had half of UND’s scoring output in the first half with 10 points as she went 3-for-8 from the field, but the rest of the team made just 2-of-17 attempts.
In the second stanza, SUU scored 15 points in the first 5:19 to stretch its lead to 19. The T'birds remained in control, not allowing the visitors to get it back to less than 15 the rest of the way.
Buck finished as UND's leading scorer with 12 points, four rebounds and four steals.
With Sacramento State's lost tonight, UND will host the postseason league tournament. Sac State was the lone tiebreaker that Southern Utah had to try to claim the top spot, but can no longer move ahead of Eastern Washington (with whom UND holds a tiebreaker).
The seven-team tournament will converge on the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Thursday through Saturday. Game times and ticket information will be announced Friday morning. Check undsports.com for more information.Notes: Allyssa Wall made a free throw in the first half to push her over 900 career points ... North Dakota collected nine blocked shots Thursday ... Katie Klapprodt scored a career-high four points, playing the final handful of minutes ... UND scored 32 points from the free throw line, tied for the season high from the charity stripe.