North Dakota women win Great West tourney

RICK GANO AP Sports Writer Published:

CHICAGO (AP) -- Backup center Emily Evers scored 16 points Saturday night and North Dakota beat Utah Valley 69-56 to win the Great West conference tournament championship.

North Dakota (21-10) was appearing in its third straight Great West tournament final -- it lost the previous two -- but this time was able to cut down the nets. Allyssa Wall added 14 points and nine rebounds for the winners.

The league's regular season champion, North Dakota won its 12th straight game and beat Utah Valley for the second time in a week, having also defeated the Wolverines in the March 3 regular-season finale. North Dakota's last loss came on Jan. 21 -- to Utah Valley.

Like its men's team that won its tournament hours earlier, North Dakota is leaving the Great West on a strong note before hopping to the Big Sky next year.

Utah Valley (15-15) got 12 points from Jenna Johnson.

North Dakota appeared ready to run away, building a 12-point lead with 3:43 left in the opening half but Utah Valley rallied with a 9-0 run and cut it to 32-29 by halftime. Jenna Johnson had 10 points for the Wolverines.

But North Dakota came out more aggressively after halftime and the 6-foot-4 sophomore Wall scored six points during a 14-3 run that eventually opened up a 52-36 lead.

Utah Valley whittled it to nine but Nicole Smart sank a key jumper -- her only basket of the game -- with about four minutes left to douse the rally.