CHENEY, Wash.-- Eastern Washington rallied from down 11 and scored the final eight points of the ball game en route to its first Big Sky Conference win, 74-70, over North Dakota Saturday afternoon.
Preseason Big Sky Player of the Year Delaney Hodgins scored a game-high 27 points and added 11 rebounds in the win for EWU. UND's Fallyn Freije recorded 22 points while Lexi Klabo had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
"That's the way it goes sometimes, you've got to make plays down the stretch," UND head coach Travis Brewster. "Biggest thing, though, you've got to figure out ways to get wins on the road. We've got to learn from this one because we've got to go home and take care of business."
UND led 60-49 in the fourth quarter and just under eight minutes to play. It was a Jill Morton feed to Freije who was all alone underneath the hoop that gave her 22 points and put the lead into double figures at that point, but the junior did not score the rest of the way. EWU (6-7, 1-1) would chip away at the deficit, whittling it down to five in the next three minutes.
North Dakota went without a field goal for over four minutes but remained in the lead. Clinging to a two-point cushion with 2:43 left, Melissa Dailey tripled to push it back to five. Hodgins, however, would immediately answer the three then add another and a tough lay-in to put the Eagles in front for the first time in that final frame. Mariah Cunningham split a pair of free throws to make it 72-70 with 14 seconds left as North Dakota had one final shot. Morton's three from the right baseline was off and a putback attempt by Klabo didn't go and Cunningham secured a big defensive rebound and two free throws on the other end to seal in. Cunningham complemented Hodgins' effort with 11 points, including six rebounds, four on the offensive end.
UND had taken command of the game late in the third by scoring the final 12 points after Eastern had built a lead as large as seven coming out of the break. With the score 47-40, Dailey hit a three then Freije hit the first of her three triples for a quick six UND points. Freije and Morton added layups and Klabo closed the quarter with two free throws and North Dakota owned a five-point edge after three quarters. Freije had 13 in the third quarter alone then had a quick half-dozen in the fourth as the lead ballooned to 60-49, when Hodgins scored 14 in the final stanza to turn the tables.
It was a back-and-forth opening half as the lead changed hands three times and the score was tied on nine different occasions. EWU out-rebounded the Fighting Hawks, 23-17, in the first half, including nine offensive rebounds leading to eight second-chance points. The Eagles were able to finish the game with the edge on the glass as well, clearing away 38 boards to UND's 31.
North Dakota (7-6, 0-2 Big Sky) will head home to face Montana and Montana State on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Notes: All five games played between these schools at Reese Court have been decided by four points or fewer (EWU 3-2) ... Freije collected the fifth 20-point game of her career ... Klabo has 13 career double-doubles ... Dailey scored 17 points in each game this weekend, her highest in a UND uniform ... EWU only missed four shots the entire fourth quarter (9-13; 69.2 %).