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Strong 4th quarter lifts UND women over Weber State

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GRAND FORKS - In the past, there have been games the UND women's basketball team should have won but lost. On the flip side, there have been games UND should have lost but won.

One can put UND's contentious 80-67 win over Weber State on Thursday night before 1,604 fans at The Betty in the latter category.

UND, somehow, overcame a handful of obstacles against Weber State, the Big Sky Conference leader, to improve to 4-8 in the league and 11-12 overall. Weber dropped to 8-3 and 16-6.

"When you look at this group, they're starting to play for each other," said UND coach Travis Brewster, who notched career win No. 100 with the Fighting Hawks. "Weber is a good team, no question about it. But to get that type of win and show the moxy we did is great."

The game had numerous twists and turns.

Weber was hot early, making its first seven 3-point attempts in the first quarter. The Wildcats, led by Larryn Brooks' 30 points, led by 10 points late in the first quarter when UND junior forward Fallyn Freije went down with an apparent ankle injury. She didn't return.

UND, however, stabilized its play in the second quarter as Jill Morton (25 points) began to hit from long range.

In the third quarter, however, Weber broke out its half-court trap and UND unraveled for a while, which led to a 64-54 lead for the Wildcats with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

"We were the Bad News Bears for a while," said Brewster. "But it's part of the game; everyone goes through stages. The key is to stay calm and move forward the best you can. The team didn't get too rattled."

UND regained its composure and went to work, especially defensively. After Brooks' basket gave the Wildcats the 64-54 lead, the Hawks went on a 21-0 run. Weber managed only three points in the final 12:15 of the game. Those three points came on a Brooks triple with 1:15 to play.

UND's Lexi Klabo, who scored 20 points, said defense was the key.

"We focused on every, single play," said Klabo. "We locked down on their shooters, making them drive instead of shoot because that's their game. We wanted to force them to do things they didn't want to do."

UND's offense was crisp throughout as the Hawks shot 50 percent, coming up with 19 assists on 28 field goals. Also, the Hawks outrebounded Weber 48-29 as Melissa Dailey, the team's point guard, grabbed eight in addition to scoring 15 points.

"We all pulled together," said Morton, who was 5-for-8 on 3-pointers. "We had a good week of practice."

And the Hawks celebrated the win by drenching Brewster and his career milestone with water in the locker room.

"He's put so much hard work into this program," said Klabo.