Fast Start Leads Hawks to 66-61 Win Over Rhode Island

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) - Pulling the trigger offensively, and playing with defensive intensity, the University of North Dakota defeated Rhode Island in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, 66-61. The win improved UND to 5-3 in home openers under Head Coach Travis Brewster.

With 2,462 fans in attendance, including over 1,000 local elementary school students, the Fighting Hawks led for 38:48 after Alaina Jarnot hit a three-pointer for the Hawks first basket of the game. North Dakota finished 28 attempts behind the arc, converting on eight of them.

Leading 65-61 in the final 30 seconds of the game, UND got two big stops as Marta Vargas turned the ball over on an offensive foul, and Kassondra Brown missed a three-pointer in the final seconds of the game.

Junior Melissa Leet scored a career-high 15 points with five blocks and three steals while Julia Fleecs also tallied 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

The Fighting Hawks team-first focus led to six scorers with eight-or-more points as Mikayla Reinke, Claire Orth, Lilly Keplin, and Alaina Jarnot all reached the plateau alongside Fleecs and Leet. Alaina also recorded five assists and four rebounds in the contest. The team also had eight of its 11 players that appeared in the game record an assist.

"This group is playing for a great purpose and trying to build a legacy like the others before them," said Head Coach Travis Brewster. "I thought we did an excellent job of playing basketball. That's what this group does best: they just go out and play, and they play with intensity and confidence.

"I was pleased with their effort on both ends of the floor," Brewster added, "I really think the kids in the crowd made the difference today. Their energy made it tough to hear and focus, but we were prepared for that environment."

North Dakota limited its turnovers in the game as it finished with a plus-six turnover ratio, causing 16 Rhode Island turnovers. With Leet playing physically under the basket, the Fighting Hawks were able to foul-out the Rams leading scorer Nicole Jorgensen. Averaging 26 points entering the game, the 6-5 center was limited to four points and only three rebounds before fouling out of the game.

The Fighting Hawks will return to action on Sunday, Nov. 17, when it hosts Valparaiso. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., Central on Fox Sports North.