Women capture honor

The UND women’s basketball team claimed at least part of the Big Sky Conference regular season title Saturday after defeating Eastern Washington 61-57.

With its two more wins on the road this past weekend, North Dakota upped its winning streak to four and is in good position for claiming the entire regular season title this Thursday evening when it travels to Southern Utah.

“It was a true team effort to have success today,” UND coach Travis Brewster said of Saturday’s win. “It goes to show you how tough the Big Sky Conference is — 20 league games are a lot, and it makes for a long season. It’s a very exciting opportunity for the team, UND and the city of Grand Forks.”

After a decisive 73-52 win over Portland State on Thursday, North Dakota (20-8, 15-4 Big Sky) moved on to face the Eagles (19-8, 13-5 Big Sky) in Cheney, Wash., where its opponent proved tougher.

Despite UND compiling a 22-7 lead midway through the first half, Eastern Washington was able to battle back and come within four at the break, continuing to fight into the second.

UND’s Emily Evers and Mia Loyd both forged the way with double-doubles while senior Madi Buck bucketed a game-high 16 points.

“This is a good team, especially at home,” Buck said. “They are really good on their home court, but yeah I mean the last two weeks it’s just been great. We knew we needed to come together as a team. We have a mission, we have a big goal ahead of us, so that’s just always what we’re striving for … I’m just really happy that we’re in the position that we’re in.”

Buck also had a couple of key plays that kept North Dakota in the game when the Eagles saw victory within reach, as she sunk a much-needed three in the second to put UND back in the lead and then got a fast-break layup with two minutes left, to award North Dakota a three point lead, 60-57.

“That’s one thing that I try to take upon myself sometimes when we get in situations like that, when we get a little down.” Buck said. “Just trying to like make a play or something that can give us a little boost and a little momentum, and I was just lucky enough that I hit it. It felt good coming out of my hand. It was a great pass, and yeah, it was a good one.”

Evers also came in clutch with four consecutive rebounds near the end of the first, and a free throw with just minutes left in the game, the junior showing a lot of emotion with each successful play.

“That’s always been a part of, like, who I am and the person I want to be on the team,” Evers said. “I want to be the encourager, and I want to help the team know when they’re doing well, and so I want to show that to them and thank them for that in a way.”

Evers’ double-double Saturday was her third of the season.

UND’s final regular season game is 6 p.m. Thursday in Southern Utah.

If North Dakota wins Thursday, the team will claim the entirety of the Big Sky Conference regular season title. Even if the Green and White lose their last game, they still have a chance at the title if Northern Colorado beats the Thunderbirds Saturday.

“I think you look at our program and what’s the expectation that’s been established, you know that’s what our kids play for,” Brewster said. “They play for the respect of the players that were here in the past, they play for the respect of the fans at home, and for our university, and you’ve got to commend them on that. They’re student athletes as well, it’s hard to find the words, to be quite truthful — it really is.”

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].