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UND women's basketball looks to get back on track at home

North Dakota's Lexi Klabo shoots over Montana defenders Mekayla Isaak and Taylor Goligoski Saturday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

During the past two seasons, UND has had its fair share of success on the road in the Big Sky Conference, where travel is demanding to say the least.

But the Fighting Hawks opened this season with back-to-back road losses last week.

"Winning on the road is tough and we've had success doing it," said UND coach Travis Brewster. "We lost games by five and four points. You could go back and look at what we could have done differently. But it comes down to making the right play at the right time."

UND, however, has had as much success as any Big Sky team in defending its home court. And the Hawks will be home tonight and Saturday against Montana and Montana State, respectively.

"The Betty is definitely the best atmosphere in the Big Sky," said UND junior guard Jill Morton.

UND has won 11 straight at The Betty, dating back to last season when they won a share of the Big Sky regular-season title.

This season, UND is 5-0 at home and its average margin of victory at They Betty is 20.0 points. But Big Sky games usually go down to the wire and this week won't be an exception as Montana and Montana State—last season's Big Sky postseason tournament champion—both are 2-0.

Both are guard-oriented and both were picked to finish in the top five of the league this season.

UND played well enough to win last week at Idaho and at Eastern Washington. The Hawks had double-digit leads but couldn't hang on down the stretch.

"But there is no reason to panic," said Brewster. "It's two games and there is a long way to go in the conference season.

"We put runs together and I was encouraged by our rebounding. And we did a pretty good job of defending."

UND has won four straight against Montana but has lost three of its past four against Montana State.

The Bobcats beat UND 74-71 last season in overtime at The Betty, the Hawks' last loss at home.

The Hawks are led by Lexi Klabo, who is averaging 18.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. Fallyn Freije averages 14.9 points and 8.5 points while Melissa Dailey is averaging 10.4 points, mostly from the perimeter.

Morton, who made her mark the past two seasons as a solid defender, has picked up her scoring this season, averaging 8.9 points.

And she's glad the Hawks are playing at home.

"Those were tough losses (last week) but it shows we're right there," she said.

Montana at UND

• When: Today, 7 p.m.

• Where: Betty Engelstad Sioux Center

• Records: UND 0-2 Big Sky, 7-6 overall; Montana 2-0, 6-7

• Radio: 1440 AM

• Of note: UND's Lexi Klabo has made 90 free throws this season, the most in NCAA Division I women's basketball

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
(701) 780-1268
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