Grand Forks, N.D.-- North Dakota's comeback effort in the fourth quarter fell short as Sacramento State hung on for a 72-66 road win at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Wednesday evening in Big Sky Conference play.
Junior Lexi Klabo tallied a career-high 31 points in the game, but it was not enough as the Hornets built a 14-point lead in the middle stages of the final quarter. UND did not relent, however, charging back to get it within two in the closing minute but the Hornets hung on for their first road win of the season.
Maranne Johnson paced the Hornets with 22 points, despite not scoring in the second or fourth quarters.
The teams traded leads in the first quarter as North Dakota held a normally three-point happy Sacramento State team to just three triples in the first half. It was a slim two-point Hornet lead at the break, but North Dakota did itself no favors with 13 turnovers in the opening half.
Sac State (7-21, 5-12) stretched its lead to double figures in the third and out-scored UND, 24-16, in that frame alone. The final blow was an off-balance corner three to beat the buzzer by Johnson, part of her 12 third-quarter points. It was 65-55 heading into the final quarter as the Hornets aimed for its first road win of the season.
That advantage reached 14 with just under seven minutes to go. But, Klabo got a bucket to start the comeback. Bailey Strand added two free throws then Jill Morton added a pull-up jumper to make it a quick 6-0 spurt. Later, Morton's jumper made it 62-56 but Justyce Dawson answered on the other end with two minutes to go.
Klabo made it a four-point game with 54 seconds left with a pair of free throws. She would make it a 66-63 game with 38 to go but Dawson made two big free throws seconds later. Morton then tripled from the top of the key to get the deficit all the way down to two, but that's as close as UND would get with Sacramento State making 4-of-6 free throws down the stratch to win it.
North Dakota had 22 turnovers in the loss.
UND (12-16, 5-12) will face Portland State in the regular season finale Friday at 3:00 p.m. at the Betty.
Notes: Klabo's previoud career high was 29 against Northern Iowa (Dec. 2) ... Fallyn Freije returned from injury, scoring four points off the bench ... North Dakota suffered just it s fourth loss at home this season (9-4).