BROOKINGS, S.D. (UND Athletics) -- Outscored 29-12 at the free throw line, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (10-15, 5-7 Summit) outrebounded South Dakota State (18-6, 10-1 Summit), 36-34, at Frost Arena Saturday afternoon but were unable to find a rhythm offensively as they fell to the Jackrabbits, 81-58.
Senior Lexi Klabo totaled 15 points and eight rebounds in the contest while Julia Fleecs and Bailey Strand added nine and eight points, respectively. As a team, UND was 21-of-53 (39.6-percent) from the field with four makes behind the arc while SDSU was 22-of-50 (44-percent) with eight treys.
“We played with heart the whole way. We didn’t see anyone backing off and that’s positive. We played hard, but we got to play smart” said Head Coach Travis Brewster. “We did alright on the boards and we did a good job of getting ourselves to the free throw line, but we got to finish those shots. We have to shoot a lot better from the field. We missed a lot of bunnies out there. We can’t spot people 10 points.”
Once North Dakota got on the scoreboard, the team settled a bit, despite a crowd of 2,700 in attendance. During a 7-0 run by the Fighting Hawks in the waning minutes of the first quarter, Fleecs contributed two points at the charity stripe and another two in the paint to break up South Dakota State’s 15-point lead while Strand’s eight points in the second, including two crucial treys in front of the Jackrabbit bench, highlighted an 8-2 run by UND.
The Hawks outshot SDSU in the opening half but was outscored at the free throw line, 15-6, as the Jacks paced North Dakota, 39-27. The Fighting Hawks hung within 10 points of the Jackrabbits as they made their baskets and maintained a shooting clip above 40-percent in the first five minutes of the third. However, the Jackrabbits capitalized on UND’s mistakes, taking a mile from the Hawks inch.
“The ball stuck a lot for us in the second half,” added Brewster. “We didn’t move it well, and that’s one of those things we need to continue to work on. We got to get better ball movement. Against a club like this, you can’t waste time making simple mistakes.”
North Dakota outscored South Dakota State in the paint, 34-28, and in second-chance points, 14-8. The Jackrabbits had four scorers with 10-or-more points in the contest.
The Fighting Hawks will return to the floor next Saturday when it hosts Oral Roberts on Feb. 16 in a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., with the men’s game against the Golden Eagles to follow 30 minutes later.