North Dakota Women’s Basketball Will Have A Different Look Inside Entering 2022-23 Season
The University of North Dakota women’s basketball program took a big step forward this past season earning 15 wins overall, nine league victories and a fifth-place finish in the Summit League. The Hawks return three starters in First-Team All-Conference performer, Kacie Borowicz, an experienced forward Claire Orth and sharpshooter Maggie Manson. The program also returns key reserves Joli Daninger, Sammiyah Hoskins and Deja Davis while also getting back 5’11” guard Juliet Gordon who missed last season with a knee injury. Allie McCarthy saw limited minutes as a true freshman and will benefit from a full off-season.
However, UND will look different on the interior as off-season workouts ramp up this summer. Center Melissa Leet graduated, while starting forward Olivia Lane transferred to Grand Canyon. Those two averaged 21 points and 15 rebounds per game combined this past season. Redshirt center Miranda Vanderwal will be expected to play significant minutes while Gordon and Orth have the versatility to play inside if needed.
There is also some help on the way with some newcomers that have the chance to make an impact this coming season.
“I feel that we addressed every position in the class. We are hoping we have experience down the line in every spot as well,” UND Head Coach Mallory Bernhard told me. “How they all come in to compete for spots and playing time this season will be determined how the summer and fall goes.”
Here’s a look at who is joining the roster.
Nakiyah Hurst, 5-11, F, Milwaukee, WI
Hurst was a very productive high school player at the Milwaukee Academy of Science, averaging a double-double in her career. She has a nice touch from the perimeter, comes in ranked the #13 wing in the nation by ESPN and the ranked #2 power forward in Wisconsin by Prep Girls Hoops. She’s confident, strong, physical and will bring an edge to the court.
Rakiyah Beal, 5-11, F, Detroit, MI
Beal played her senior season at Hamtramck High School after playing as a freshman, sophomore and junior years at Detroit Edison High School where she won state championships in 2018 and 2019, withdrawing from the 2020-21 season. She was heavily recruited by some big-name programs and brings an incredible skill set and explosion to the court. She has been ranked #6 overall by ESPN and the #1 SF in Michigan. Another long body that can get on the glass and be impactful in the paint, Beal has a chance to be a player that can help immediately, especially on the defensive end.
Amanda Roach, 5-7, PG, Brighton, MI
Roach led her high school team to a school record 25 wins this past season with district and regional titles, coming up just short in the state title game. She brings toughness, a winning pedigree and a very competitive spirit to Grand Forks. She was named one of Top 5 Defenders in Michigan and had was ranked as the #5 Combo Guard in the state by Prep Girls Hoops. The Hawks return experienced ball handlers, but you can never have enough depth in that area. This may also give Mallory Bernhard the ability to play Borowicz off the ball sometimes as well.
Mikayla Aumer, 5-9, G, Mora, MN
A very productive player at Cambridge-Isanti High School and for Minnesota Metro Stars AAU program., Aumer was ranked as the #6 Combo Guard in Minnesota by Prep Girls Hoops in the 2022 class. Aumer was honored with the ‘Athena Award’, which is presented annually to the top senior female athletes in 43 St. Paul-area schools. The award, which is based on excellence in individual sports or for participation and accomplishments in team sports, is named for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and of skill. She finished third in school history with 1,699 career points scored. She is Cambridge-Isanti’s all-time leader in career assists, is second in career steals and career 3-pointers made. She also has a 3.96 unweighted GPA. She’s a gym rat.
Darcy Jardine, 6-4, F/C, Cheyenne, WY
A late addition for the Fighting Hawks, but Jardine fills an important need inside. She attended UND’s camp last summer and impressed the coaches with her skill around the basket and work ethic. But at the time, there just wasn’t a scholarship available for her position, so Jardine instead signed with the North Dakota State College of Science. However, with some of the movement on the roster, and a coaching change at NDSCS, an opportunity opened for both UND and Jardine to connect again. She won two state titles at Cheyenne East High School and played on the AAU circuit for the Colorado Premier coached by former Utah college star, Keith Van Horn. Jardine will have to be ready to provide at least some minutes with a limited front line and her development will be critical over the summer months.
Tara Bieniewicz, 6-0, F, Chesterfield, MI/Trine University
A really late addition out of the portal is a D3 All-American out of Trine University. The Storm has been a wildly successful program that went to the national semifinals last season and finished with a 28-4 record. Bieniewicz is a grad transfer and a versatile 6-0 Forward that shot over 40% from three-point range this past season. There was a lot of late D1 interest on her from programs closer to home, so for the Fighting Hawks staff to get an experienced player like this so late in the process is incredibly valuable. Bieniewicz is likely going to see time at power forward to help bolster the front line. Having another player on the roster that has played in as many big games as she has can also not be understated.
The 2022-23 squad returns to campus soon and will start off-season workouts in mid-June. Check out our disussion with Alex Heinert and Valerie Sussex in the latest episode of Benchwarmers!