Southern Utah holds off UND in Big Sky debut
Cy'erra Mills' first career triple put UND (4-5, 0-1 Big Sky) within a point with two minutes remaining, capping an 11-2 UND run that brought the home crowd into it. Mills drained the three on the right wing to make it 55-54, but a putback by Carli Moreland on the next Thunderbird possession and three SUU free throws put the game out of reach.
"Too many turnovers," UND head coach Travis Brewster told the media following the game, "Southern Utah did a good job pressuring us. We've got to re-focus for a game Saturday. It was a tough flow of the game."
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.
That T'bird lead eventually got to 10 points with just over five minutes to go before UND embarked on a stretch to pull back into it. Emily Evers and Nicole Smart each made buckets and Mia Loyd had four points to set-up the Mills three.
The teams were tied 31-31 at the half and Evers would put the team ahead 38-36 with an old-fashioned, 3-point play early in the stanza, but that would be the final lead of the game for UND. SUU matched its win total from last season with its sixth victory of the year.
Evers and Smart each had 13 points to pace UND, while 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.
UND will make a quick trip to Northern Colorado for its first Big Sky road clash on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
Notes: Mills three was the first of her career after an 0-16 start from deep to start her career ... Loyd has scored career highs in each of her last two games ... Her 10-point effort Thursday more than doubled her season total ... Megan Lauck was held out of the starting lineup due to an injury sustained in last Saturday's win over Jamestown ... She managed to play 14 minutes, scoring four points Thursday ... Siri Burck earned her second career start ... Evers has now led UND in scoring in each of the past four games, averaging 15 points per contest in that stretch.