PORTLAND, Ore.-- Senior Madi Buck scored a game-high 19 points to lead visiting North Dakota to a 73-52 win at Portland State Thursday night in Big Sky Conference play. UND (19-8, 14-4) is now just one game shy of clinching at least a share of the league's regular season title.
"I thought the efforts of the second half were much better," UND head coach Travis Brewster said. "We came out slow to start but we did a good job of changing tempo with the defense and making aggressive plays on the defensive end. I'm very proud of how this group worked through it and put themselves in position to have another opportunity."
Portland State (6-20, 4-13) battled in the first half and had a one-point lead at 21-20 with just over four minutes remaining in the half. From there, UND embarked on a 12-3 spurt that ended with an Emily Evers bucket for an eight point lead. North Dakota would take a half-dozen lead at the break.
At halftime, the Vikings hung tough, battling UND on the boards, trailing just 19-18 in that category and holding UND to only 16 paint points in the first frame.
That changed in the second stanza as North Dakota established its interior game and used turnovers to lead to easy buckets in building its lead. The advantage quickly ballooned to over double figures. A 25-10 run throughout the mid-section of the half provided the push to put the game out of reach as North Dakota continued to get the ball in deep down low to its bigs for easy-score opportunities.
Buck, Mia Loyd and Evers all collected on the opportunities, as the trio combined to score 49 of UND's 73 points with a commanding 36-14 edge in points in the paint. The defense created offense for the visitors as well with UND converting 16 PSU turnovers into 25 points. Meanwhile, North Dakota turned the ball over a season-low eight times-- just two after halftime-- and the Vikings failed to turn any of those into points on the offensive end.
UND finished with a +10 advantage on the glass, 44-34, and registered 18 assists on 28 made field goals.
Leah Szabla had nine points, four rebounds, five assists and just one turnover in the win. UND finished with three players in double figures as Loyd had 16 points and eight rebounds while Evers chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Buck, the reigning Big Sky co-Player of the Week, led all scorers with 19 points.
UND heads to Eastern Washington Saturday afternoon. Tip is slated for 4:00 p.m. Central.
Notes: North Dakota is just one win or one Southern Utah loss away from clinching at least a share of the Big Sky Conference's regular season title ... Four teams are still in the running to share the crown and hosting rights for the league tourney (UND 14-4, SUU 12-5, Montana 11-6, EWU 11-6) ... UND's previous low for turnovers were in wins over North Dakota State and Portland State (10) ... North Dakota shot 44.4 percent from the floor and has combined to shoot 51.2 percent in its last three games, all convincing wins (88-of-172) ... Five of UND's last seven wins have come by 20 points or more ... UND is 5-1 this season when it commits fewer turnovers than its opponent ... North Dakota is one win shy of securing just its second 20-win campaign in its Division I era (21-11 in 2011-12).