(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)
Grand Forks, ND– Coming into the final home game for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Women’s Basketball team, the Fighting Hawks needed to clamp down defensively. They did not do that as the Pioneers of Denver University were able to shoot 41.7 percent on the day including 24 points from Lauren Loven. That said, UND was able to battle back from a double digit Pioneer lead and looked to earn the comeback victory. They lead by three points with a little over seven seconds left and looked to have a senior day victory in their grasp.
That all changed as time expired in regulation as Pioneers’ senior Haley Simental was able to drain her first field goal. A buzzer-beater from three sent it to overtime where the Pioneers held serve.
What does all of this mean for UND? Well it means that the team has a tough two final games on the road at Fort. Wayne and nationally ranked South Dakota. This team showed its ability to battle back and overcome adversity despite going down double digits. In addition, the Fighting Hawks were able to diversify their offense away from Lexi Klabo as the game went on. The all-world forward had 33 points, but Julia Fleecs, and Melissa Daley were each able to chip in 15 and 14 points respectively. How UND responds to adversity combined with its ability to limit shots will determine its future.
What does this mean for Denver? Well Lauren Loven tied the Summit League single season three-point record today. This team can shoot the ball from anywhere, and needs to do a little bit better defending the paint. Today, they gave up 18 second chance points on 23 offensive rebounds. That said, the Pioneers also finished the game minus Loven and Claire Gritt due to fouls. This team played down three players due to foul trouble in overtime and still found a way to win. If the Pioneers can limit the offensive glass a bit more and continue this superb shooting from the three point line, then anything could happen for them in Sioux Falls. Credit to the Pioneers for dealing with the counter-punch of UND and being able to finish the game strong.