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Montana halts UND women's basketball's 11-game home unbeaten streak

UND's Lexi Klabo scrambles for a loose ball with Montana's McKenzie Johnson (32) and Emma Stockholm in the first half Thursday at the by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

For years, Montana was one of the dominant teams in Big Sky Conference women's basketball.

But injuries the past two seasons took their toll on the Griz.

The Griz didn't win a road game last season and dropped their two true road games this season.

Montana snapped its road woes Thursday night at The Betty at the expense of UND.

In a methodical game, Montana dominated the paint and hit timely 3-pointers to down UND 54-43 before 1,325 fans.

The loss dropped UND to 0-3 in the Big Sky and 7-7 overall. It also snapped the Hawks' 11-game home win streak dating back to last season. Montana improved to 3-0 and 7-7.

UND shared last season's Big Sky regular-season title. But an 0-3 start in the league this season is an ominous—but not disastrous—start for the Hawks.

Two years ago, UND was in a similar position.

"We started 1-4 and wound up one game out of first place," said UND coach Travis Brewster. "We have to get back to the drawing board and get back to the fundamentals. We're not going to revamp the wheel or anything like that. We just have to get back to being a very solid basketball team."

And that likely will start with a better rebounding effort.

UND has been one of the best rebounding teams in the Big Sky the past few seasons but the Griz outrebounded UND 43-33 and had an incredible 20 offensive boards that led to 10 second-chance points.

And the Hawks also turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 12 Griz points.

"We sure need to box out better," said UND's Lexi Klabo, who led the way with 21 points. "That's probably what cost us the game."

The Griz led for nearly 32 minutes. UND trailed 26-21 at the break but the Hawks cut the deficit to two points (42-40) on a Klabo basket with 7:36 to play.

But UND managed only one basket the rest of the way. The Hawks shot 37 percent and a dismal 2-for-20 showing on 3-point attempts.

Montana received four straight points from Caitlin Lonergan after Klabo's basket. Then Madi Schoening hit a 3-pointer for a 49-40 Griz lead. That ended UND's comeback.

And that also was the basket that finally ended Montana's road woes.

"This win is huge for us," said Montana coach Shannon Schweyen, who is in her second season as the Griz coach. "It's our first road win. This is a young team. To come into this place and grab a win, with all the injuries we've had, is special. And I was incredibly proud of how we defended tonight."

Lonergan led the Griz with 12 points. But eight of the other nine players that saw the court for the Griz managed to contribute points.

Other than Klabo, no other UND player managed double figures. Fallyn Freije scored seven for the Hawks.

UND now faces last season's Big Sky tournament champion Montana State on Saturday.

"It's a marathon conference season," added Klabo. "We just have to come out strong with energy and effort from here on out and get back to doing what we do best."

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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