“It’s more shocking to me in training when she comes and tells me she missed one,” Bernhard said.
Borowicz scored 33 points last week leading UND to their first win of the season. And it also served to signal that the Hawks could be a very different – and possibly a lot better – team with Borowicz back in the lineup.
The former Roseau, Minnesota star missed UND’s first three games of the season due to COVID protocols, but came back with a vengeance – taking the team off the bench as they played virtually all of them positions in the field.
“Kacie is a competitor,” said Bernhard. “There isn’t an exercise in practice that she doesn’t try to win.”
UND will face Bucknell on Saturday in the first round of the TD Bank Classic in Burlington, Vermont. The Hawks face either Vermont or Brown on Sunday.
Borowicz’s 20-for-20 performance on the line last week set a one-game school record. But hidden in that performance was the fact that four other UND players scored in double digits against a team that was chosen to finish second in the Big Sky Conference pre-season poll.
And after season 2-19 of last season, UND needed a boost at the start of the season – and the Hawks may have found it in their win over Montana State.
“I will continue to refer to the fact that last year we played so many close games,” said Bernhard. “Our record wasn’t good, but when you break it down and look at the number of close games that have been played, there was this little piece in our mind that said, ‘Can we do it in the end? ”
“Doing that game (against Montana State) in the home stretch gives our team the idea that ‘yes, we can do those close games.’ And, in fact, we went down by 12 and we went beaten to come back It was excellent for our mentality and our confidence.
UND might see a different style of play with their trip to Vermont this weekend. The Hawks can see more patient teams unlike the more open style they see in the Summit League.
UND is also expected to be at full throttle this weekend for the first time this season. That means 6-foot-2 center Olivia Lane is expected to return, giving the Hawks an extra boost on the rebound. The lack of rebound has been a concern for 1-3 UND, who are topped by an average of 43-31 in four games.
However, the absence of a few UND starters for the first three games gave the young players in the roster a better chance to get a feel for the varsity game.
Maggie Manson, a junior, led the way with Claire Orth and Melissa Leet at the start.
“This was an opportunity for us to help our newcomers to our program show what UND basketball is all about,” said Manson, who averages 11 points per game. “And now that we’ve got Kacie and Olivia back, we’re really looking forward to the weekend.”
UND’s victory over Montana State was the first official victory over Bernhard, who was the program’s interim coach last season.
And the players were delighted with this victory.
“We were so excited,” Manson said. “I would have liked you to see us in the locker room. We would jump around and sterilize Coach Mal with our water bottles. We were able to breathe deeply knowing that we had achieved this first victory to our credit. It was a very, very good feeling.