The UND Fighting Hawks women’s basketball team heads to Greeley, Colo. for a huge matchup with the University of Northern Colorado Bears on Sat. Feb. 4 in a matchup between the Big Sky Conference’s top two teams.
The Fighting Hawks (14-7) come off an 88-69 victory over the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks, increasing their BSC record to 9-1. Behind a career-high 22 points from sophomore forward Fallyn Freije, the Hawks were locked in on the offensive end, as they shot a season-high 58.6 percent from the field, while holding the Lumberjacks to 31.5 percent.
“I think the difference was our defense,” senior guard Makailah Dyer, who had 15 points and seven rebounds against the Lumberjacks, said.
“I think this game we played team defense and that really led to our offense and got us going.”
With the victory, the Hawks extend their win streak to five games. Over that stretch, they have scored an average of 74.2 points, while holding their opposition to 65.8 points per game. Freije and Dyer have led the charge with their steady play with Freije averaging 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds and Dyer averaging 15.0 points and 4.2 assists throughout the win streak. That being said, the Hawks are not satisfied going into their next game.
“We are happy, but we can’t be content,” Dyer said. “We have to keep working hard in practice. It’ll be nice because we have a week to prepare, but we have a huge game coming up, so we are excited about it.”
UND coach Travis Brewster seems to agree with Dyer’s assessment, especially considering the road ahead.
“Got a little bit of work to do yet,” Brewster said. “Obviously we have some teams we haven’t played. I’m encouraged by how we are improving. At the same time, you can’t take anything for granted right now. We have a tough road swing coming up, three big ones to play.”
The next big game just so happens to be against the Bears (18-3), who are on top of the BSC standings with an undefeated record of 10-0. With such a record, it comes with no surprise that the Bears are red hot, as they are on a win streak of their own, standing at 11 games. Redshirt sophomore Savannah Smith has been a key to their success, as she leads the team with 16.1 points per game, including 23.5 points per game in her last four. Smith’s performance has helped the Bears outscore opponents by an average of 13.1 points during their win streak and while they hope to keep it going, this game means more to them than just keeping the streak alive.
“We know last time North Dakota came in here and beat us,” junior guard Savannah Scott said. “We just want to show them that they can’t come into our court and beat us.”
Scott is referring to the 59-58 loss that came from the hands of now UND senior guard Leah Szabla last season. Szabla buried two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining, which ultimately gave the Bears the heart-breaking, single point loss.
With the Bears’ desire to defend home court, Saturday’s test will not be an easy task for the Hawks, especially considering that UNC holds a 9-1 record at home. Yet, if one half of the season has revealed anything about this UND women’s basketball team, it is that they are up for the challenge.
“We just got to play each one, one week at a time, one day at a time,” Brewster said. “We got to keep giving ourselves a chance. This group is getting better and that’s the biggest thing that I’m proud of them about.”
Jake Andersen is a staff writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]