Big second half sends North Dakota to the semifinals

North Dakota guard Julia Fleecs finishes with 15 points and six rebounds to help the Fighting Hawks to an upset over No. 6 Denver to advance to the semifinals.
North Dakota guard Julia Fleecs finishes with 15 points and six rebounds to help the Fighting Hawks to an upset over No. 6 Denver to advance to the semifinals.

Press Conference: (3) Denver | (6) North Dakota

The Basics

Score: No. 6 North Dakota 80, No. 3 Denver 67
Records: North Dakota (12-18), Denver (17-13)
Location: Denny Sanford PREMIER Center - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Playing in its first Summit League Tournament game, North Dakota trailed by as many as 16 points late in the second half, but the No. 6 seed Fighting Hawks never quit, and erased the deficit for an 80-67 come-from-behind upset win over No. 3 seed Denver.

Down 9-8 after a Jill Morton 3-pointer put the Fighting Hawks in the lead, the Pioneers erupted for a 13-0 run, turning a one-point deficit into a 12-point lead.

North Dakota scored the final two points of the first quarter to cut the Denver lead to 23-13 after the first quarter, and then scored the first six points of the second quarter to cut the lead to 23-19.

The Pioneers scored the next six points though, which pushed the lead back to 10 points, a lead that would reach as many as 16 points at 40-24 before Denver went to the locker room up 41-28.

It looked like the game might get away from North Dakota, but the league newcomer stayed the course, chipping away at the lead, and used runs of 8-0 and 5-0 to cut the Pioneer lead to 59-58 on Julia Fleecs 3-pointer with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.

Trailing since the 4:52 mark of the first quarter, the Fighting Hawks fought their way back into the lead on a Bailey Strand triple with 7:29 left, the first of three lead changes in the quarter, the last one coming on a Claire Orth 3-pointer with 5:06 remaining, which sparked a 16-0 run to end the game, and seal the win for North Dakota.  

Fleecs and Morton led five Fighting Hawks in double figures with 15 points each, Lexi Klabo and Faith Dooley both finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Melissa Dailey added 10 points in the win.

Jasmine Jeffcoat led four Pioneers in double figures with 13 points off the bench, with both Madison Nelson and Claire Gritt adding 11 and Courtney Smith 10 points, also off the bench.

Turning Point

  • Bailey Strand hit a 3-pointer with 7:29 left to give UND its first lead since midway through the first quarter, and even though Denver got the lead back, it gave the Fighting Hawks the confidence they needed to regain the lead and close out the victory.

Inside the Box Score

  • Denver did not score in the final 6 minutes, 28 seconds of the game, North Dakota scored 16 points in that span
  • UND scored 22-second chance points on 18 offensive rebounds
  • Denver scored six points on 14 offensive rebounds
  • Denver led UND in points off turnovers 16-5 at halftime, but finished the game with a 22-21 edge
  • Denver's Lauren Loven set a school and league single-season record 105 3-pointers this season
  • Klabo's ninth double-double of the season gives her 29 for her career
  • Dooley recorded her first-career double-double and scored a career-high 13 points

News & Notes

  • Sunday's game marked the first-ever Summit League Tournament appearance for North Dakota
  • Denver falls to 2-6 all-time in tournament play, with a 1-5 all-time mark in the quarterfinals
  • The Pioneers won a quarterfinal game for the first time since their inaugural season in 2014 as a No. 6 seed, when they beat No. 3 seed Purdue Fort Wayne, 79-73
  • The game featured a 29-point turnaround. Denver led 16 points with 1:33 left in the second quarter, and UND led by 13 at the end of the game
  • Session attendance: 2,971

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