Hawks snap 14-game losing streak to South Dakota
Feb. 4—GRAND FORKS — On Nov. 17, 2013, UND hosted South Dakota in a women's basketball game at The Betty. That date probably doesn't resonate much with UND players. Most of them probably were in middle school at the time. The date, however, has a significant meaning to UND coach Mallory Bernhard.
UND's win that day nearly a decade ago would be the Hawks' last over South Dakota — until Saturday.
UND placed six players in double figures, held off two South Dakota rallies and finally defeated the Coyotes after 14 straight losses in an 83-66 win at The Betty before 1,527 fans.
"That's a lot of games," said Bernhard of the streak. "Too many."
UND broke the streak by playing with pace against an injury-riddled South Dakota team, which has played with eight healthy players since mid-January.
"We knew they had eight players; we knew they played an overtime game on Thursday so we just wanted to make them work for everything," said Bernhard. "We knew they were going to hit shots and we know they're very good but we just wanted to wear them down.
"We talked about how that might not show up in the first or second quarters, but it might show up in the third and fourth quarters."
UND took control late in the third quarter. The Coyotes, who rank 24th nationally in three-point percentage, cut UND's lead to 57-54 late in the third before UND's Maggie Manson hit a three-pointer in the final minute to put the Hawks up by five entering the fourth quarter.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, UND led 69-56 after a Claire Orth free throw capped a 10-2 run.
The highlight of UND's final surge came from freshman Rakiyah Beal, whose acrobatic coast-to-coast layup drew a big roar.
"I kind of picked my dribble up early so I had to finish at the rim or turn the ball over," said Beal.
Beal hasn't played a lot of minutes this season but she is seeing more court time lately.
"She can elevate and get to the rim," said Bernhard. "She's got special things coming."
It was a game of runs. UND led by 10 points in the second quarter before the Coyotes took the lead on a Grace Larkins basket with 1:40 left. UND then had its 10-point run in the third before the Coyotes responded with a 10-0 run,
UND, however, slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter. UND's balanced scoring was the difference. Juliet Gordon led the Hawks with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sammiyah Hoskin added 12. Jolene Daninger and Claire Orth both finished with 11 and Kacie Borowicz and Manson ended with 10 each.
"When we're balanced, we're really effective," said Gordon, who was sporting a cut to the nose and a black eye after playing two physical games over the weekend. "Kacie did a great job of distributing the ball and everyone just stepped up. And Tara (Bieniewicz) stepped up and knocked down a big three that we knew she could make."
That basket came immediately after USD hit three 3-pointers in roughly a minute to take a 36-35 lead late in the second quarter.
The Coyotes had more fans than usual for a visiting team. Former Grafton standout Walker Demers started at center for the Yotes and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. She had a fan club of roughly 50 people on hand.
UND improved to 6-6 in the Summit and 13-9 overall while the Yotes dropped to 7-6 and 11-13.
The fact that UND broke a 14-game losing streak against South Dakota could help the Hawks as they now hit the road next week for games at Denver and Omaha.
"We hadn't beaten USD in a decade so that meant something when we stepped on the floor today," said Gordon.