MOSCOW, Idaho-- Host Idaho scored 32 third-quarter points to erase an 11-point Fighting Hawk halftime lead on the way to an 80-75 Vandal win Thursday evening at the Kibbie Dome in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams. Fallyn Freije (24 points, 10 rebounds) and Lexi Klabo (14 pts, 11 rbs) each recorded double-doubles in the loss for North Dakota.
North Dakota (7-5, 0-1 Big Sky) freshman Mikayla Reinke tallied a new career high with 10 points, all coming in the first half. Melissa Dailey knocked down five threes en route to 17 points.
Mikayla Ferenz had a game-high 33 points while adding eight rebounds and five assists for the Vandals. Geraldine McCorkell added 13 while Isabelle Hadden and Taylor Pierce each chipped in a dozen for Idaho (5-7, 1-0).
"We gave up 32 points in that third quarter and that just proves you have to play on both ends of the floor at all times," UND head coach Travis Brewster said. "It comes down to execution and I have to do a better job to get certain situations. We have to keep working and we have to get ourselves ready for the next one."
The teams battled back-and-forth in the opening quarter with Ferenz heating up with nine of her total in that first frame. She helped Idaho build a lead as large as a half dozen in the first quarter but North Dakota scored the final seven points to take the lead into the second quarter. With the score 16-10, Reinke scored on a long perimeter jumper then added a triple a few seconds later and Klabo finished the run with a bucket for a 17-16 Fighting Hawk edge.
The visitors then out-scored the Vandals, 24-14, to take a double-digit lead into the halftime locker room. Ferenz was the only bright spot for Idaho in the first half as she had 16 but her counterparts McCorkell had just four points and Taylor Pierce was 0-for-9 for zero points in the first 20 minutes.
Pierce would come out in the second half and get going with four triples in the third quarter alone, highlighting a 10-minute stretch that saw the Vandals pour in 32 points. Idaho went 6-for-8 in the third quarter alone and found its way to a five-point lead heading into the final period.
The Vandals wasted little time to build its advantage back to six but the Fighting Hawks immediately answered. Dailey hit a three then later tripled again to give UND the lead at 71-68 with just under four minutes remaining. Freije's jumper made it 73-70 but was met with six straight Idaho points. Freije again made a tough shot to give her 24 points and putting the deficit at just ohne with 36 seconds left.
Ferenz got free and scored at the rim to make it a three-point game with under 13 seconds remaining. After a missed UND layup, North Dakota had the in-bounds pass on their own baseline with six seconds left but couldn't get it in before a five-second count and were without a timeout, forcing one of just eight turnovers for the game to all but seal in. Ferenz knocked down a pair of free throws on the other end and Idaho kept UND without a win at the Kibbie Dome (0-4 all-time).
North Dakota continues its road trip with a Saturday afternoon matchup at Eastern Washington University. Tip time is slated for 4:00 p.m. Central.
Notes: UND is now 3-3 in Big Sky Conference openers ... Reinke's 10 points were a career high ... Freije's 24 points was two shy of her career high and marked the fourth 20-point game of her career ... Dailey's 17 were a season high ... UND dropped its third game when leading or tied at halftime this season ... North Dakota's eight turnovers tied a season low.