Hawks Close Home Season and Celebrate Seniors in Sold Out USD Bout
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) - Despite opening the game with strong emotions on Senior Day, the University of North Dakota (2-17, 2-11 Summit) dropped its final game of 2020-21 at a soldout Betty Engelstad Sioux Center as South Dakota (12-5, 8-2 Summit) rode Hannah Sjerven’s hot hand to defeat the Fighting Hawks, 64-47.
Nine of UND’s 12 players in the lineup scored on the night, led by Jaclyn Jarnot and Juliet Gordon, who both scored eight points with a pair of three-pointers to their register. The Sjerven led Coyotes were outscored 24-3 by the Hawks bench. Sjerven finished with 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting with 10 rebounds.
After falling behind early, North Dakota rallied at the end of the first quarter with a 6-2 run to close the gap to five points at the end of the period, 16-11. However, the Fighting Hawks could not sustain their offensive pace and precision as the Yotes led at halftime, 32-15.
“We never really found a rhythm to start the game offensively in that first half,” said Interim Head Coach Mallory Bernhard. “We came out at the start of the third quarter and wanted to play with a little more pace to get that offensive spark and it worked for a bit with five quick points but we just couldn’t keep that momentum going.”
The Fighting Hawks spark came from the bench when Melissa Leet and Kacie Borowicz combined for a 7-2 run closed South Dakota’s lead to 12 points with 2:23 left in the third quarter, 43-31. Despite UND outscoring the Coyotes in the third quarter, its final push wasn’t enough as South Dakota earned the series sweep.
With their home season now closed, the Fighting Hawks have shifted their focus to next week and Omaha, both of whom are competing for a Summit League Tournament berth next weekend.
“Omaha’s a major focus now. This is a really big week and we’ll be fighting to play in Sioux Falls,” Bernhard said. “It’s going to be an incredibly important week to get our minds right, and to see what we’re capable of.”
North Dakota’s senior captains Julia Fleecs and Mikayla Reinke, both echoed Bernhard’s sentiment.
“I think that we showed that we can play with the top teams in the conference over and over again, whether it’s NDSU or USD,” said Fleecs. “Right now we’re really focused on getting to that third season at The Summit League Tournament and we’re excited for that opportunity.”
“Like Coach Mal said, next week is everything for us right now and that’s where our focus is going to be,” added Reinke. “It determines if we get to go onto Sioux Falls so it’s going to be a big weekend for us in Omaha. No matter who it is, whenever you go down I-29, you know it’s going to be a tough game.”
The Fighting Hawks will close the regular season against the Mavericks on Feb. 19 and 20 at Baxter Arena in Omaha. Both games will tip at 3 p.m. Central.
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