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Published December 18, 2009, 11:06 PM

Sioux women bounce Northern Arizona

Bagaason's 20 points lead UND

By: Christy Kramer, UND

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Three-point shooting was key as the University of North Dakota women’s basketball team defeated Northern Arizona 69-55 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center to gain its first home win over an NCAA Division I opponent this season. The win moved the Fighting Sioux to 3-8 while the Lumberjacks dropped to 2-9.

Led by senior captain Kayla Bagaason (G, Clearbrook, Minn.), the Fighting Sioux finished with a trio of players in double-digits. Bagaason was 4-for-6 six beyond the three-point line to lead her to a team-high 20 points. Junior Mallory Youngblut (G, Davenport, Iowa) finished with 11 points, including five from the free throw line and freshman Shyla Kuehl (F, Hustisford, Wis.) rounded out the top three with a career-high 11 points.

“We had a strong effort from our freshman tonight and Kayla really lit it up,” head coach Gene Roebuck said. “She’s really seemed to find not only a good shooting rhythm but confidence to drive and shoot the ball as well. When she gets an open shot, I feel very confident that she is going to knock it down.”

Amy Patton led NAU with 23 points and six rebounds.

Both teams finished with 21 baskets from the field, but the difference came behind the arc and at the charity stripe. The Fighting Sioux sank nine three-pointers while the Lumberjacks finished with just four – all from Patton. In addition, UND was sent to the free throw line 10 more times than NAU and of those extra visits, they missed just one freebie.

Points off of the bench were also key for the Sioux as in addition to the 11 points from Kuehl, each reserve player made a contribution. UND was also able to score 20 points off of Lumberjack turnovers and 16 points on second chances.

“I think we played well,” Bagaason said. “Defensively we were a bit slow at times, but we kicked it in the second half.

“It was great to get the win at home in front of our crowd. It’s always different when you play on the road and are on someone else’s floor.”

The Fighting Sioux will take all of next week off before heading south to New Orleans, La., for the Tulane Double Tree Classic. UND will kickoff the two-day tournament on Monday, Dec. 28 with an 8 p.m. game against Texas Tech.

Forty-five seconds into the opening half Bagaason drilled a three-pointer to give UND a 3-0 lead, but the Lumberjacks answered with an 8-0 run, including five points from Patton. Off the bench, Kuehl scored four points on offensive rebounds and freshman Nicole Smart (G, Ada, Minn.) hit from beyond the left side arc to tie the game at 10-10.

Just inside the nine-minute mark Youngblut drained her first three of the game to help UND regain the lead. With another basket by Smart coming off of a nice feed from freshman Carly Rothfusz (G, Eden Prairie, Minn.), the Fighting Sioux took a 15-10 lead over the Lumberjacks.

NAU worked its way into another tie, but with a set of UND three-pointers and a quick field goal it moved into a 23-17 lead.

The Sioux continued to hold off Northern Arizona through the remainder of the half and at 2:34 Youngblut struck again from behind the three-point line to give UND the 33-25 advantage. Following a combined six points from the charity stripe from both teams, UND went into the break leading the Lumberjacks 35-29.

Northern Arizona scored first in the new half, but the Fighting Sioux worked their way into an 11-2 run to double their halftime lead. The Sioux capped an eventual 15-4 run with a free throw from Kuehl at 11:41 to take a 13-point lead.

After a back-and-forth battle Northern Arizona cut the Sioux lead down to eight, but solid free throw shooting on the UND end would move the team into its biggest lead yet, a 14-point advantage with 5:38 left in the game.

With a strong finish both in the field and at the line, the University of North Dakota women’s basketball team won its final home game of 2009 and defeated its first Big Sky opponent of the season.

GAME NOTES: This marks the 100th career game for senior Alys Seay. With five rebounds, Seay reached 250 for her career …Junior Mallory Youngblut finished just one shy of her 100th career three pointer and just three rebounds away from 300 … North Dakota is now 2-1 against Big Sky opponents since transitioning to NCAA Division I … With a three-pointer late in the first half, Kayla Bagaason netted her 150th point this season … Under head coach Gene Roebuck the Fighting Sioux are now 578-112, all-time they are 754-276, and at ‘The Betty’ the team holds a 83-8 record.

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