GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Senior Nicole Smart drained a 3-pointer late in overtime to lift North Dakota to a 67-63 victory over Drake on Saturday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Smart's second trey of the game broke a 63-63 tie with 10 seconds left and gave her squad its third straight win.
Although her triple wound up being the dagger, her defensive effort in the closing seconds of regulation may have been the key play in the ballgame. With the score tied at 56-all and Drake with the basketball, the Bulldogs turned to their playmaker, Kyndal Clark to try to steal a road win. As Clark drove the paint with the clock winding down, Smart kept Clark in front of her defensively and as Clark went up with her runner, Smart denied it to thwart the attempt and send the game into overtime.
Getting to an extra frame took a total team effort by UND, who fell behind by 10 early in the second half after a 15-0 Bulldog run. Mary Pat Specht hit treys on three straight trips to start the run, part of her team-leading 14 points (all after halftime). Sophomore Siri Burck played a crucial role in UND scratching its way back into the game, answering with a pair of triples herself for a career-best eight points on the night.
The late game drama highlighted a contest that featured 13 ties and a dozen lead changes. After the teams battled to a 17-17 tie through 15-and-a-half minutes, UND embarked on a 7-0 run thanks mostly to its post players. Sophomore Emily Evers scored three of her game-high 17 in that stretch and junior Allyssa Wall had a bucket as UND went into the half with a 26-22 advantage.
Evers scored to start the second half, but Drake scored the next 15 points and held UND without a field goal for nearly seven minutes to take a ten-point lead. UND then scored nine straight of its own and eventually re-tied the score at 45-apiece with 7:38 to play. From there, the lead would change hands a pair of times and the score would be tied five more times as the teams withstood each others' best shot.
Tied with 1:15 to play, Drake's Carly Grenfell hit a three but Smart immediately answered with a three of her own for a 54-54 score. Clark hit a tough jumper with 27 seconds to play for a late Bulldog advantage but again, UND countered with a bucket from Wall and then the big defensive block by Smart to earn another frame of action.
In the overtime period, Megan Lauck drained a three and Madi Buck added a jumper for a three-point UND margin with 3:26 to go. Five straight Bulldog points helped the visitors retake the lead. Cy'erra Mills this time had the answer, slicing right through the defenders in the paint and getting all the way to the rim for a basket and a one-point North Dakota cushion.
After Clark hit 1-of-2 free throws on the next trip to tie it, Smart got free at the top of the key and buried a three with under 10 seconds to go. Evers' free throw in the final second sealed it, giving North Dakota its first win in the series with Drake since 1976 and its thrid consecutive victory this season.
Evers registered her second straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, one game after her 17-point, 15-rebound effort in a win over Air Force Tuesday. Four UND players were in double figures scoring with Lauck adding 13 and Buck and Smart each chipping-in 10. Lauck had a solid all-around game, contributing seven rebounds, six steals and five assists in the win.
UND (3-4) hosts Jamestown College next Saturday afternoon for a 2:00 p.m. tip at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.