USD topples Fighting Hawks with second-half rally

VERMILLION, S.D. (UND Athletics) -- South Dakota erased an 18-point first-half deficit to claim a fourth straight win over North Dakota, defeating the Fighting Hawks 76-71 on Thursday night at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center in non-conference play.

UND had built a 31-13 lead early in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 46-35 advantage largely on the strength of red-hot 3-point shooting. The Fighting Hawks hit 8 of 14 attempts from beyond the arc, including five by Bailey Strand. Strand led all players with 15 points in the half -- one shy of her career high -- but was held off the scoresheet the rest of the way.

South Dakota spent most of the second half slowly chipping away at the deficit and took a 67-66 lead with 2:17 remaining on a Ciara Dufy 3-point. It was the Coyotes' first lead since scoring the first basket of the game and USD would not relinquish it.

USD's Jasmine Trimboli led all players with a career-high 21 points, one of three Coyotes in double figures.

North Dakota blistered the nets in the first quarter, opening a 16-point wound through 10 minutes. The Fighting Hawks went an incredible 11-for-14 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from distance to shoot 79 percent and tally a season-best 29 points in that frame. Meanwhile, USD (8-5) mustered only three field goal makes on a dozen tries as it was a lop-sided 29-13 score through the first quarter.

Strand's first three made it an 8-2 start and Fallyn Freije added a jumper on the next trip down for a decisive 10-2 edge early. Strand's second made it 18-5 then she hit two more in the final two minutes as North Dakota continued rolling. Freije free throws to start the second gave UND its largest lead at 18 but the Coyotes would have an immediate answer. South Dakota scored nine quick points to halve the lead and would go into the halftime break down just 11 at 46-35.

The Coyotes out-scored the Fighting Hawks in each of the final three quarters, including shooting 57 percent in the third quarter alone to trim the margin down to four heading into the final stanza. Freije's layup had the score at 64-59 in the opening minutes of the period but UND would not score another field goal for nearly seven minutes as the home team built a 73-66 advantage. UND had eight turnovers in that quarter to help the Coyotes complete the comeback as they turned those miscues into nine points.

Klabo ended the night with 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block. Strand had 15 on five triples while Jill Morton chipped in nine points, five boards and five assists.

Both teams shot just under 50 percent from the field -- UND at 48 percent and USD at 46.3 percent -- but the Fighting Hawks turned the ball over 22 times compared to just seven by the Coyotes.

UND will take a 7-4 record into the Christmas break and will resume play on Dec. 28 at Idaho in the Big Sky Conference opener.

Notes: UND leads the all-time series with USD, 49-26 ... North Dakota had its three-game winning streak snapped in the loss ... Strand's five threes in the first half marked the most in any game of her career ... Strand has tripled in all but one game this season and is 12-for-29 in the last four games combined ... Mikayla Reinke etched a new career best with eight points.