Strong Post Play Not Enough for Western Illinois’ Long-Range Attack
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) – Despite a hot start that saw the University of North Dakota (1-14, 1-8 Summit League) build an 11-point lead, Western Illinois (4-14, 3-7 Summit League) attacked the basket to get to the free-throw line and shot from range as the Leathernecks split the series with an 83-74 win.
The Fighting Hawks forwards did most of the damage, with Julia Fleecs leading with 14 points and Jaclyn Jarnot and Olivia Lane scoring 10 points as UND outscored WIU in the paint, 28-22. Western Illinois scorers reached double figures, led by Danni Nichols 24.
“Western Illinois is a good team and they’re very well coached. We knew they weren’t just going to lie down after last night,” said Interim Head Coach, “I think the hard part about tonight is that we got sucked into their game. We thought we could play their fast-paced style and got comfortable doing it but we needed to play our style and slow it down a little bit.”
North Dakota’s basket was the size of a hula hoop in the opening 7.5 minutes of play, nailing eight of their first 10 shots of the night and closing the quarter 9-of-15 from the field (60-percent). UND continued the trend in the second period as it went 9-for-20 (45-percent), building a six-point lead at the half, 46-40.
The Fighting Hawks led by as much as 11 points in the opening half of play, but a late surge by the Leathernecks made it a 24-23 scoring differential for North Dakota heading into halftime. Western Illinois was a deadly 3-for-4 behind the arc in the second quarter and 5-for-13 in the opening 20 minutes.
Western Illinois did its damage in the third period, outscoring North Dakota, 21-11, that included a three-pointer at the buzzer by Evan Zars to make a four-point lead entering the final period, 61-57. The Leathernecks took an eight-point halfway through the quarter, but an 8-1 run by the Hawks cut it to one-point with 3:11 remaining, 72-71. WIU’s 8-0 run finished UND and sealed its victory. The Leathernecks finished the night 11-for-25 behind the three-point line and outscored North Dakota at the charity stripe, 24-19, with WIU taking 34 attempts to UND’s 24.
The University of North Dakota will return to action next Friday, Feb. 5, to begin a two-game set at Denver. The women will be the second game of the doubleheader with the men’s team.
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