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UND, Klabo surge past North Dakota State

North Dakota's Lexi Klabo (34) takes a shot against a North Dakota State player during their game Thursday, Feb. 7, in Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS -- In the 1990s, the hottest ticket in town was the one for the North Dakota-North Dakota State women’s basketball game.

Times have changed, though, as both programs went their separate ways more than a decade ago before reuniting this season in the Summit League.

The teams met again Thursday night, Feb. 7, at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, with UND -- behind 26 points from Fargo native Lexi Klabo -- rallying for a 70-58 win.

It was more like the coldest ticket in town as minus-30 degree wind chills and a blizzard kept most fans away from a game that traditionally drew thousands of fans in the 1990s

Regardless, the game still had sizable consequences as both middle-of-the-pack Summit League members did their best to at least stay where they were -- in hopes of gaining late-season momentum and avoiding drawing Summit powers South Dakota and South Dakota in the first round of next month’s league postseason tournament.

UND (5-6 Summit, 10-14 overall) won its second straight after losing five in a row -- a stretch that included a loss at NDSU. The Bison dropped to 3-7 and 6-16.

For Klabo, the game had additional meaning. She wanted to go out with a win against NDSU in possibly her last game against the Bison. She’s now 7-1 against the Bison in her career.

In UND’s loss at NDSU last month, Klabo -- the Summit’s leading scorer -- was held to 11 points.

“I absolutely did not like how I played the last time and I wanted to come out and lead with energy and passion and go from there,” said Klabo. “Everybody followed and it was a really good win for us.”

Jill Morton followed Klabo’s lead, scoring 14 points -- including a crucial 3-pointer that gave the Hawks a 57-53 lead with 3:32 to go.

“Being a North Dakota kid and a senior, I’m sure Lexi wanted that one,” said Morton.

Klabo was dominate when it counted, as she scored eight points in the first eight minutes of the final quarter, which began tied at 43.

NDSU, led by Emily Deitz’ 13 points, led for most of the first three quarters -- 30 minutes in which both offenses struggled at times..

But UND scored 27 points in the final quarter, nine from Klabo, seven from Morton and 11 from Dailey, who finished with 15 points.

UND forced 17 NDSU turnovers, leading to 13 points and also grabbed 11 offensive rebounds that resulted in 16 second-chance points.

“I thought we played pretty darn well, but their offensive rebounds got us,” said NDSU coach Maren Walseth.

And Klabo was a big factor, too, as she has been for much of her career against the Bison.

“Holding her to one of her lowest point totals at our place won’t happen often, especially at home,” Walseth added. “She played like a senior, put her team on her back and demanded the ball in the fourth quarter.”

Klabo was 3-for-5 in the fourth quarter and also grabbed six of her game-high 12 rebounds in the final quarter.

Those stats said a lot about how she viewed the game.

“Lexi knew this would be the last time she’d play them on this floor and that was a big deal to her,” said UND coach Travis Brewster. “Truthfully, Lexi is at that point where she’s realizing she’s a senior and there are some things she can do and needed to do.: