SACRAMENTO, Calif.-- Host Sacramento State had a pair of 14-0 runs in the first half en route to an 80-62 win over North Dakota in Big Sky Conference play Thursday night at the Hornets' Nest. UND led by six midway through the opening period but the constant Hornet pressure led to 31 UND miscues on the night.
"Give Sacramento State credit," UND head coach Travis Brewster said. "They had us deviate from our game plan that we were having success with in the first part of the game. The key about having success in the Big Sky Conference-- you have to stay with your game plan when the battle gets going and when it gets heated. That's one of the things we have to get better at."
North Dakota's (10-14, 5-10 Big Sky) game plan was predicated on seeing lots of pressure and attempting to slow a Hornet offense that led the conference in points per game (72.6 ppg). That plan was executed midway through the first half as UND opened a 16-10 edge with 9:16 to go. Nicole Smart's three gave North Dakota that six-point advantage-- its largest of the night-- but Alle Moreno had an answer on the next trip.
Moreno tripled in transition, one of five threes on the night, sparking a 14-0 Sacramento State (14-9, 9-5) run for an eight-point. North Dakota countered with six straight of its own, four coming from Mia Loyd, who added 12 points on the night as UND drew within a bucket.
From there, however, UND would would turn the ball over nine times in the final 5:22 of the first half as the hosts again scored 14 straight to earn a 16-point margin at the break. The Hornets kept their foot to the gas to start the second half as well, scoring the first five points of the second stanza and later led by as many as two dozen with 15:04 left.
UND got nine straight points and closed the deficit to 15 after back-to-back threes from Megan Lauck and Madi Buck. That Hornet lead would eventually be sliced to 13 on an Emily Evers layup but Kylie Kuhns scored two of her game-high 20 points and North Dakota drew no closer.
Kuhns was part of three Hornets in double figures with Hilliard and Moreno each chipping-in 17 for the Hornets in the win. Sac State scored 48 points off UND turnovers in Thursday's win.
North Dakota was paced by 17 from Evers with Loyd adding a dozen and seven rebounds. Smart had three treys en route to 11 points for the visitors.
UND heads to Northern Arizona Saturday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. Central tip.