GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- North Dakota ironed out the wrinkles late to post a 76-67 exhibition win over visiting Bemidji State Thursday night at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center. Senior Nicole Smart led UND with 20 points including several key buckets to keep BSU at bay.
Her 14 first-half points helped UND shrug-off a lackluster opening 20 minutes as the home team took a three-point lead into the break. Following a bucket by Bemidji State with six seconds to go in the half, Smart drove the length of the floor and beat the buzzer with a left-handed layup for a momentum builder. It was a key basket in a half that saw UND miss on multiple opportunities, shooting just 32 percent from the floor and missing half of its free throws.
UND, who never led by more than six in the opening frame, worked out the kinks in the second half to shoot 62 percent in the final 20 minutes and led by as many as 15 with 2:30 to play. But, BSU would not go quietly making long threes to bookend a jumper for a quick 8-0 spurt that drew the score back within seven in just a minute's time.
Smart was there for an answer, however, draining her third triple of the night to end the BSU run and put the game in the win column for North Dakota. Smart, one of two seniors on this year's team, finished the night 7-of-14 shooting with five boards and five assists in an impressive all-around performance.
Sophomore center Emily Evers made the most of her 12 minutes, hitting 6-of-10 from the floor including a pair of polished turnaround hooks early in the contest. Her efforts came in the stead of Allyssa Wall-- UND's leading scorer from a season ago-- who sat Thursday's game with an injury for precautionary reasons.
BSU's LaNae Rash was a thorn in North Dakota's side all night, scoring a game-high 23 points with her energetic play on both ends of the floor. She buried a pair of triples in the second half as the visitors made their surge, but UND withstood the challenge and gave its first-year head coach, Travis Brewster, a victory in his first game on the bench.
UND will host Mayville State next Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the Betty to close-out the exhibition season.