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Seniors Nicole Smart (pictured) and Carly Rothfusz will be honored at Saturday's home finale
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Updated: Saturday 02/28/2013 16:46:46 (ET)
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DATE: Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CT
SITE: Grand Forks, N.D. | Betty Engelstad Sioux Center

North Dakota closes out its home schedule today with a tilt against Eastern Washington. UND is still in the hunt for a Big Sky Conference Tournament berth, trailing by two games with two to play.  UND will head to Southern Utah next Saturday, one of the teams it trails for that final playoff spot.

North Dakota had a 10-point second-half lead on first-place Northern Colorado, but the Bears escaped with a 44-41 win Thursday night at the Betty. Senior Nicole Smart led all players with 14 points in the loss. Saturday, North Dakota got key contributions from nearly its entire roster in a convincing 71-50 dispatching of Portland State.  Six different UND players had at least eight points in the win as the home team registered a season-low nine turnovers.

Junior Megan Lauck hit a career-high five triples and visiting North Dakota shot 51 percent from the floor but it was not enough as Eastern Washington held on for a 75-72 win at Reese Court in Big Sky Conference play Jan. 17th. UND led by as many as 11 in the second half but key turnovers allowed EWU back into the game as it held on for the home win.

Lauck tied a career best with 21 points as North Dakota knocked down a season-high-tying seven triples in the loss.  Her second three of the second half gave UND (7-9, 2-5 Big Sky) a quick nine-point lead in the opening minutes of the second stanza. That margin would stretch to as many as 11 with the visiting team dominating play to that point.

Late in the second half, the Eagles embarked on a 10-2 spurt to take their first lead of the second period as EWU led for just 3:56 the entire game.

UND and EWU have just one prior game in the all-time series, the Jan. 17 meeting in Spokane, Wash.

Eastern Washington boasts the top field goal percentage in the Big Sky Conference heading into this week’s action with a .409 clip ... That includes a .360 mark from downtown, also tops in the league ... EWU sits in third place and is one of three teams to already secure a Big Sky tournament berth (Montana, Northern Colorado) ... EWU is led by sophomore Lexi Nelson, who pours-in 14.1 points per contest ... Her .861 free-throw percentage sets the place in the conference and she has 49 three-pointers, good for third in the Big Sky ... Sophomore Kylie Huerta is tied for the top assist-to-turnover ratio in the league with 98 assists and just 53 turnovers (1.8).

Nicole Smart
Smart, from Ada, Minn., has missed just one game in her entire UND career, making 74 starts in four seasons. Nicole has 723 career points and 114 three-pointers in a North Dakota uniform. Her career free-throw percentage (.811) ranks fourth  in school history. She scored a career-high 21 points with five triples in a win last season at Chicago State. Smart leads the team averaging 30.9 minutes per game this season and has averages of 7.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest. She is a Visual Arts major.

Carly Rothfusz
Rothfusz, from Eden Prairie, Minn., has missed just two games in her four seasons at UND. She recently went over the 400-point plateau in her career and has established new single-game highs in rebounds, assists, steal and blocks this season. She recorded career bests with 15 points in wins over Houston Baptist and Chicago State last season. She averages 3.4 points and two rebounds per game for her career. She is an elementary education major.

With two weeks to play in the conference season, not much is settled just yet in terms of playoff seedings. Ten of the 11 league teams are still in the hunt for a postseason berth and as many as six teams are still in the running to win the regular season championship. Montana has the inside track with four games left, leading Northern Colorado by a half-game and Eastern Washington by two games.  The regular season champ will have the opportunity to host the entire Big Sky Conference Tournament and will get a first-round bye with the top seven teams converging on its home court Mar. 14-16.

UND has had ten different players in its starting five at some point this season. Only junior Allyssa Wall  and freshman Josie Dillon have not made a start this season for UND. Senior Nicole Smart and junior Madi Buck are the only two players to start every contest this season. With Saturday’s lineup change, UND has had 10 different starting five combinations this season.

Limiting turnovers has been the key thus far for success as UND is 6-0 when it turns the ball over 15 times or less this season. Additionally, North Dakota has won its last six games in which it its opponent has equal or more turnovers this season.

The University of North Dakota women’s basketball team picked up the Great West Conference regular-season and postseason tournament titles, winning nine straight games to finish 9-1 in league play ... Center Allyssa Wall (North Sioux City, S.D.) was named to the GWC All-Tournament team and was voted the tournament’s most valuable player ... Also named to the all-tournament team was center Emily Evers (Grand Forks, N.D.), who averaged a team-high 13.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and shot 74.4 percent from the field ... UND advanced to its first-ever NCAA Division I postseason play, heading to Seattle University for the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).

The University of North Dakota women’s basketball program holds an 815-325 (.715) record all-time since the first game was played in 1974.

All-time, North Dakota is 445-92 (.828) when it comes to defending its own court. The team played at the  UND Fieldhouse/Hyslop Sports Center before moving into its current home at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in 2004-05.

North Dakota is 111-22 (.833) all-time at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, which opened prior to the 2004-05 season.

Season records at ‘The Betty’
2004-05 -------------------- 13-2
2005-06 -------------------- 19-1
2006-07 -------------------- 17-2
2007-08 -------------------- 14-1
2008-09 -------------------- 13-0
2009-10 -------------------- 8-4
2010-11 -------------------- 9-5
2011-12 -------------------- 10-3
2012-13 -------------------- 8-5

2012-13 SCHEDULE
This year’s slate includes 16 total home games (two exhibitions),10 games against postseason teams (NCAA- Idaho State (2), Iowa State;  WNIT- No. Colorado (2), Drake, Duquesne, Harvard, South Florida, Utah), a re-kindling of the North Dakota State rivalry and the inaugural season of the Big Sky Conference. UND will play each Big Sky foe twice in home-and-home contests to make up 20 of North Dakota’s games this season.

Catch the home finale live for FREE on the internet, thanks to Big Sky TV. The free video webstream is available by logging onto and clicking on the Big Sky TV button.

Take North Dakota women’s basketball with you wherever you go with KSNR 100.3 FM (CatCountry) on the iheartradio app. Download it to your computer or your smart phone.

Saturday's home finale cane be heard on the home for UND basketball, 100.3 FM Cat Country in Grand Forks. Mitch Wigness provides the play-by-play with the men's game to follow at 4:00 p.m. as Paul Ralston has the call from Eastern Washington Saturday.

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