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Kiera Pemberton's play a bright spot for UND women's basketball

Jan. 10—GRAND FORKS — Kiera Pemberton has been one of the few bright spots for UND women's basketball through the first half of the season.

The freshman forward from Langley, B.C., has taken on a big offensive role for the 4-11 Fighting Hawks, to the point that her absence was felt when she missed three games in December due to injury.

Pemberton has the second-best shooting percentage on the team — 56.5% from the field — behind fellow freshman Fatima Ibrahim, who is 13-for-20 in seven games this season.

But what does Pemberton want to work on in the second half?

Shooting.

"I think I should probably start shooting a little bit more," she said. "Work on that, get a little confidence back."

Pemberton has scored in double figures six times in 12 games this season, including UND's last two games against Idaho State and Eastern Washington in the Summit League-Big Sky Challenge. She's physical in the paint and constantly finishes through contact.

Her 9.2 points per game average is third on the team behind fifth-year guard Kacie Borowicz and sophomore forward Kiyah Hurst.

Pemberton went down with an injury after UND's Dec. 7 game at Eastern Illinois. In the four games prior, she shot 18-for-24 from the floor.

She recorded a .474 shooting percentage over three games against South Dakota State, Idaho State and Eastern Washington since returning from injury.

In addition to her offensive success through the first half, Pemberton's 74 rebounds lead the team. She averages 6.2 rebounds per game.

"I feel a little bit more confident now. I'm starting to get the hang of things," she said. "I think that, as a team, we're doing way better and we're improving a lot, so it's been pretty awesome being a part of that."

The Hawks now turn the focus to an all-Summit League slate for the remainder of the season. UND faces Omaha at 7 p.m. Thursday and Kansas City at 1 p.m. Saturday after starting conference play 0-2.

Coach Mallory Bernhard said her team took a "big step forward" in its two games against Big Sky opponents during the Summit League-Big Sky Challenge.

"I felt our team's intensity, our just overall energy was really good. I think it was a great challenge for us, and a great confidence boost for us," she said. "Even though we went 1-1, I think there was a lot to really be proud about in that Eastern Washington game. Any time you can get a win, that's huge. But knowing that's a team that's picked to win that league and knowing that we competed the way we did, I think, again, just builds confidence.

"Hope that it kind of jumpstarts some things for us. The energy at practice has been good. I think the excitement to get back to Summit League play is definitely there. Now, it's just time to put in the work and see what we can do."