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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published January 30 2014

UND women defeat Eastern Washington

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota gained the top spot in the Big Sky Conference by using its decided height advantage and its muscle.

North Dakota, however, showed it can play another style as well. UND’s up-tempo style of play was a big factor in North Dakota’s 82-60 win over Eastern Washington on Thursday night before 1,401 fans at The Betty – a victory that successfully launched the team’s four-game home stand.

UND, which placed five players in double figures, improved to 8-2 in the league and 13-6 overall while Eastern Washington – the preseason league favorite – dropped to 4-5 and 8-10.

The balanced scoring was the result of UND subbing early and often during a fast-paced first half, which ended with North Dakota leading 48-33. The game was decided in the last 10 minutes of the first half, a stretch that saw UND outscore the Eagles 26-12.

“We took it to them,” said UND coach Travis Brewster. “We did a good job of rebounding and starting our fastbreak. That’s something we worked on this week. I thought we were a little soft in rebounding when we played on the road last week.”

UND outrebounded the Eagles 52-26 and shot 50 percent, including a 5-for-9 showing on 3-pointers.

Mia Loyd, who missed the past two games with a leg injury, returned and led UND with 16 points. Madi Buck added 15 and a trio of players – Allyssa Wall, Leah Szabla and Emily Evers – all added 11.

“When we get four or five players going, we’re hard to defend,” said Wall.

During the last 10 minutes of the first half, UND had it all going – running, rebounding and defending.

UND’s bench produced 32 points. Loyd and Evers both came off the bench to lead the balanced scoring.

“We shortened our rotation and battled on the road trip,” said Brewster. “Now, we can play with fresher legs. We have more confidence, too, because we get more time to see what’s going on out on the floor. And we’re shared the ball well.”

UND was credited with 17 assists on 26 field goals.

The one negative, however, was turnovers. UND turned the ball over 26 times, yet never was in danger of losing its lead in the second half.

The Eagles, led by Laura Hughes’ 13 points, never came closer than 15 points in the second half.

UND continues its home stand Saturday with a noon game against Portland State.

EWU (8-10, 4-5 Big Sky): Nelson 3-13 2-4 9, Hodgins 4-9 0-0 10, Ashenfelter 3-8 4-4 10, Redmon 1-2 0-0 2, Williams 0-5 2-2 2, Mack 1-5 0-0 2, Ryan 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 2-5 0-0 4, Hughes 6-9 1-4 13, Montgomery 2-9 4-4 8. Totals 22-66 13-18 60.

UND (13-6, 8-2 Big Sky): Szabla 1-1 9-11 11, Dyer 3-7 1-2 9, Buck 5-13 3-4 15, Knox 1-5 2-4 4, Wall 5-8 1-3 11, Loyd 6-11 4-6 16, Klapprodt 0-0 1-2 1, Burck 1-1 0-0 3, Evers 4-7 3-4 11, Kiser 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 26-52 25-38 82.

Half: UND 48, EWU 33. 3-point goals: EWU 3-16 (Nelson 1-5, Hodgins 2-5, Ashenfelter 0-1, Anderson 0-1, Montgomery 0-3), UND 5-9 (Dyer 2-2, Buck 2-4, Knix 0-2, Burck 1-1). Total fouls: EWU 27, UND 16. Fouled out: Anderson. Rebounds: EWU 25 (five with 3), UND 52 (Buck 11). Assists: EWU 11 (Nelson, Redmon 3), UND 17 (Knox 5). Steals: EWU 13 (three with 3), UND 8 (Szabla 5). Turnovers: EWU 15, UND 26. A: 1,401.

Nelson writes for the Grand Forks Herald