GREELEY, Colo.-- Leah Szabla's free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining vaulted UND past host Northern Colorado, 59-58, in a Big Sky Conference win Saturday afternoon at Bank of Colorado Arena. The Bears' Kourteney Zadina made a three with 5.8 remaining to put UNC in front but Szabla drove from the mid-line to the rim and was fouled to set up the game-winning free throws.
"Cardiac kids do it again,” UND head coach Travis Brewster said of his team’s clutch play down the stretch. “Our defense in the first quarter was stingy as it’s been all year. Mia Loyd was double-teamed the whole game and she adjusted well. Makailah Dyer and Lexi Klabo played well in our two-man game. Leah Szabla had a big game on both ends of the floor for us and had those clutch free throws. The team showed composure in the chaotic part of the game and that's attributed to maturation.”
North Dakota scored the first eight points and led most of the way thanks to a solid shooting night (68.4 percent in the first half) and a whopping 37-18 rebounding edge for the afternoon. Northern Colorado didn't find the scoresheet until midway through the opening period but UND was on its way to piling up a 10-point lead at 12-2.
The Bears (11-13, 6-8) quickly recovered, getting it back within a bucket before ending the half trailing, 32-27. UNC mustered just five rebounds in the opening half as North Dakota owned a +12 advantage on the boards at the break.
In the third, UNC would take its first lead, going up 39-35 with 2:54 left in the period. Two Lexi Klabo lay-ups followed by a Mia Loyd basket swung the lead back in UND's favor. The score would be tied heading into the final frame.
Nine straight Fighting Hawk points set the tone in the final stanza. Klabo would score four in that stretch and Szabla hit a big three as the lead ballooned back to nine at 52-43. With the lead still at nine and under three minutes left, the Bears staged a furious rally. Savannah Scott and Savannah Smith helped make it a two-point game quickly and just over a minute to go. After a big Loyd jumper to make it 56-52, Katie Longwell nailed a three for a one-point cushion. Szabla was fouled with 19.7 remaining and split the pair to leave the door cracked for a Bear comeback.
Zadina tripled from the left wing with 5.8 showing on the clock as UNC regained control. Composed, however, UND in-bounded the ball to Szabla near the mid-court line and she drove to the line and was fouled with 1.9 seconds to go. She drained both freebies to deliver the win after UNC was unable to get off a desperation answer.
Szabla led UND with 16 points while Makailah Dyer added 13 and Lexi Kabo registered her fourth straight game in double figures with 10.
North Dakota (13-12, 9-5) picked up its third straight win in Greeley in as many seasons and swept the season series with the Bears. Saturday's win also marked UND's fourth straight road win this season.
UND will continue its final road trip with stops at Portland State and Sacramento State on Thursday and next Saturday, respectively.