GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Eastern Washington led by as many as 16 in the second half but had to withstand a valiant comeback effort in the closing minutes to claim a 67-58 road win over North Dakota Saturday afternoon in Big Sky Conference play. Megan Lauck's steal and cross-court bucket along with her free-throw make sliced the Eagle advantage down to just five, but UND got no closer and EWU temporarily moved into sole possession of third place in the league standings.
It was 14-all six-and-a-half minutes in until a 14-3 spurt by the visitors staked them to an 11-point advantage with 7:27 left in the first frame. That lead grew to as many as 15 in the first half for EWU (16-11, 11-6 Big Sky), who got a career-high 21 points from Carrie Ojeda in the contest.
A triple from North Dakota (11-17, 6-13) freshman Josie Dillon, her third of the opening stanza, helped close it to 10 points at the break for a 37-27 EWU advantage. In the second half, Ojeda scored the first six points coming out of the locker room for the Eagles' largest lead at 43-27.
UND continued to whittle away at the deficit, getting it back to 10 on a couple different occasions. The second time was when senior Nicole Smart-- playing in her final home game of her career-- drilled a three from the left wing with 6:43 to play. Lauck added a free throw on the next trip and the home team had it back within single digits for the first time since the final minutes of the first half.
A tough turnaround jumper by Melissa Williams answered and Ojeda added another layin to stretch it back to 13 points. A quick 8-0 run by UND shifted momentum, the final three coming on Lauck's defensive effort and transition bucket and ensuing free throw.
That would be the closest that UND would get, however, as Ojeda drilled a pair of free throws and Lexi Nelson helped ice it with three freebies in the final minute.
UND had three players in double figures scoring, led by Lauck's 14 with 11 more from Dillon and 10 from Katie Houdek. Smart finished with nine points, five rebounds and five assists with just one turnover, playing nearly the entire game at the point guard spot. Madi Buck contributed seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Ojeda's 21 points led all scorers while Nelson added 14 points and Kylie Huerta had nine points and eight assists for EWU.
UND will end its regular season next Saturday at Southern Utah for an 8:00 p.m. tip.