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Women’s College Basketball: Lane turns in big junior season with Fighting Hawks

North Dakota and former Pequot Lakes player Olivia Lane talks about her junior season where she led her conference in rebounding

Olivia Lane plays basketball
North Dakota and former Pequot Lakes player Olivia Lane goes up for a shot against South Dakota.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

It was a breakout season for Olivia Lane.

The Pequot Lakes High School graduate and two-time Dispatch Player of the Year finished her junior season at the University of North Dakota.

Lane started 23 of the 26 games she played for the Fighting Hawks. She averaged 11.8 points and 9.0 rebounds a game while shooting 48% from the field and 69% from the free throw line.

The Fighting Hawks finished the season 15-15 and 9-9 in the Summit League.

“We kind of had a brand new team this year and were really young,” Lane said. “It was exciting to have a different season coming off last year and have different opportunities and you can see that. Our record was a lot better and you can see that improvement through our team.”

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Lane’s 9.0 rebounds a game led the Summit League.

“At the beginning of the season, we kind of said we needed to be a rebounding team,” Lane said. “I just knew that was something that I enjoy and I thought in my head that if I could get in an aggressive move to the basket to try to get the ball that will help my team out on the offensive and defensive end.”

It was a slow start to the season for Lane because she contacted COVID-19. She missed the first five games, including an exhibition contest against Minnesota-Crookston.

“We were in Utah at the time and found out that someone on our team got COVID and I was a close contact at the time,” Lane said. “I had to stay in my hotel and drive separately from Utah all the way to North Dakota which is why I missed a couple of games. Which was too bad because I was looking forward for my first season that I wouldn’t miss games. I missed some of the preseason my freshman and sophomore years due to injuries, so it was unfortunate I ended up getting COVID.

Olivia Lane plays basketball
North Dakota and former Pequot Lakes player Olivia Lane plays basketball against Western Illinois
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Her first game was Nov. 27 against Bucknell where she tallied three points and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.

After three games coming off the bench, Lane was inserted into the starting lineup Dec. 4 against Minnesota-Morris and scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Fighting Hawks blowout win.

She didn’t leave the starting lineup the rest of the season and scored in double figures in five straight games following her insertion into the starting five.

Her season high in points came Jan. 8 against Denver. She scored 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting and secured 11 rebounds in 30 minutes as UND beat Denver 80-75.

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She recorded her season high in rebounds twice. The first came in the second meeting against Denver Feb. 3 where she ripped down 17 rebounds to go along with 12 points in 41 minutes in a 73-64 overtime win.

Three games later on Feb. 12, Lane put in probably her season’s best performance when she tallied 24 points and 17 rebounds in 37 minutes as the Fighting Hawks fell to Western Illinois 85-73.

“It was just the intensity of it,” Lane said. “That was a pretty tough game for us and I knew I needed to step up and get some points because I had some mismatches and I knew I had to get a lot of rebounds because Western Illinois is a good shooting team and getting those rebounds was something I focused on.”

Olivia Lane plays basketball
North Dakota and former Pequot Lakes player Olivia Lane goes up for a shot in a game
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Lane recorded five straight double-doubles from Feb. 3 to Feb. 17 which included both the second Denver game and the Western Illinois contest. For the season, she tallied nine double-doubles in points and rebounds.

Last season, Lane averaged 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in 13 games and nine starts as a sophomore with 18.6 minutes a game. As a freshman she played in 25 games and averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 13.3 minutes a game.

“It’s a confidence thing,” Lane said. “Changing from high school to college level is a faster game with a different physicality that you have to get used to.”

Lane led her conference in rebounding as a 6-foot-2 forward. She said she uses quickness and positioning to gobble most of her boards.

“With my height and my ability to guard on the outside a little bit it does throw some people off a tad bit,” Lane said. “It’s something I wanted to improve on in the summertime. I want to get my speed up so I can play a little in and out.”

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Lane’s younger sister Erika is on the Fighting Hawks roster. Erika played her junior year at Brainerd and saw just 10 games and 23 total minutes of action in her redshirt freshman season.

“It reminds me of the old days,” Lane said. Olivia and Erika were teammates at Pequot Lakes for two seasons. “She was fun. We would go to the gym together and it’s nice to have someone that can be there for me up here and I can be there for her.”

Lane said the biggest improvement she’s seen in her three years playing for the Fighting Hawks is her left hand.

“In the past, I would always avoid my left hand,” she said. “I knew I always had it, but this year I was able to make some post moves using my left hand. Now I feel confident dribbling and doing post moves with both hands.”

Lane still has two more years of eligibility left due to the NCAA handing out a free COVID-19 year for all athletes who were on a team during the pandemic.

“It’s nice to have some extra time. My goal is to keep improving on the weaknesses I have,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to go overseas and experience that if that opportunity is around.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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