Fallyn Freije, Lexi Klabo lead UND to eighth-straight win over NDSU
With a tie game heading into the fourth quarter, UND women's basketball coach Travis Brewster huddled his team and drew up a play.
As the huddle broke, UND junior Fallyn Freije whispered to her coach.
"We got this, just relax," Freije said.
Freijie was right. She scored a career-high 26 points and UND outscored North Dakota State 29-18 in the fourth quarter as the Fighting Hawks beat the Bison 79-68 in non-conference play in front of 2,571 fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
UND (5-3) beat NDSU (5-5) for the eighth-consecutive game and the Hawks improved to 6-0 in the rivalry in the Division I era.
"Being from North Dakota puts a lot more emotion on the game," Freije said. "Last night, going to bed, that's what you think about. This is the stuff you dream of. The success (UND had) in Division II, it's now in our hands to carry on that tradition."
The most memorable sequence came with eight minutes to play when Freije and Lexi Klabo blocked shots on the defensive end. Jill Morton collected the Klabo block and started a fastbreak, eventually finding Bailey Strand on the left wing for a 3-pointer and a 60-52 advantage.
Strand's three brought the Betty crowd to its feet and triggered an emphatic fist pump on the sideline from Brewster.
"The noise and emotion of the fans there is what it's all about," Freije said.
Strand's three wasn't the complete dagger, though, as the hot shooting of Michelle Gaislerova, who finished with 19 points on 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range, kept the Bison in it.
NDSU, which shot 52.9 percent from the 3-point line, cut the UND lead to 73-68 with a Gaislerova trey with 1:45 to play.
Morton, however, responded for the Fighting Hawks with a hanging reverse layup that pushed the lead back to seven with 1:20 to go.
"I think we stayed composed because we've been in that position before," Klabo said.
North Dakota State coach Maren Walseth also noted the experience disparity with the Bison young post players.
"North Dakota's inside game is certainly their strength," Walseth said. "I think that our youth on the inside was the reality versus two players with a lot of college basketball under their belts.
"Are we a finished product? No, but I'm pleased with the growth we've had in the last 10 days."
Freije (26 points, 12 rebounds) and Klabo (23 points, 10 rebounds) both finished with double doubles.
Strand chipped in with nine points on 3-for-6 3-point shooting and Morton added eight points.
Gaislerova, a freshman from the Czech Republic, led the Bison with a career-high 19 points. NDSU also received 13 points each from Sarah Jacobson and Reilly Jacobson.
"(Freije and Klabo) were excellent on both ends of the floor," Brewster said. "Fallyn came out guns a-blazing. They understood the magnitude of the game. Our team found our moxy. Fallyn led the way and the team followed suit."