UND freshman guard Leah Szabla dribbles the ball against Idaho State last weekend. Photo by Jennifer Friese/The Dakota Student.
After a decisive 68-55 win over Weber State on Thursday, the UND women’s basketball team pushed its winning streak to five games Saturday, claiming a 64-59 win against Big Sky Conference sixth-ranked Idaho State in overtime.
The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center had 1,847 fans watching as North Dakota (16-6, 11-2 Big Sky) built an early lead against the ISU Bengals (9-12, 7-5 Big Sky). The first half was dominated by sophomore Mia Loyd, who had the first six points for UND, as she helped her team build what would be a 12-point lead at the half.
“It was absolutely insane,” Emily Evers said. “It was such an awesome atmosphere — as intense as the game gets and as in to it as the crowd gets — it’s an awesome place to play.”
Evers, who had eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks Saturday afternoon, helped solidify the mid-game lead with the final four points of the half. The Bengals slowly chipped away during the second stanza to eventually take its first lead of the second half at 51-48, after which Evers was key in getting the game to overtime with a steal anda game-tying free throw with 51 seconds left.
“It’s never an easy game against Idaho State or anyone else in our conference, so we’ve got to be ready to go and I think we responded well tonight,” Evers said.
After Evers’ free throw, sophomore guard Kelsey Knox sunk two big free throws with 15 seconds left, only for ISU’s Rebecca Schrimpsher to send the game to overtime with a second-chance jumper.
North Dakota proved more resilient than its guest in overtime, holding the Bengals to one of eight from the floor and three more free throws from Knox. A final block from Evers shut down ISU’s last chance to tie the game, and the contest was put away with two final free throws from freshman guard Leah Szabla.
“Our silent, under-the-radar person has been Kelsey Knox,” coach Travis Brewster said. “She hit some key free throws in overtime. It was a tough game. I think the catapult was Madi Buck to be quite truthful, she just took it upon herself … hustle plays and things like that, and I thought her teammates did a great job rallying around her.”
Buck had 13 points and nine rebounds, while Knox contributed nine, and Loyd led both teams with 17 points and nine boards.
“Everyone was clutch,” Loyd said. “We did such a good job finishing the game as a team.”
North Dakota’s victory gave ISU ts second loss in its last eight games.
The Green and White hit the road again this week as they take on No. 7 in the Big Sky Montana State on Thursday and Montana on Saturday. The games set for 8 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
“(The games) are all important at this time of the year, obviously,” UND coach Travis Brewster said. “But with the Montana trip coming up, that’s a new one for us. Trying to get a first out there, they’re both playing some pretty good basketball at the moment. But having a team win at this time of the year is big, just because it shows a little bit of grit.”
Marie Monson is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]