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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Weber State holds off UND in overtime

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UND guard Quinton Hooker (21) puts up a shot over Weber State defenders Zach Braxton (44), Jeremy Senglin (30) and Joel Bolomboy during Friday’s semifinal game in Reno, Nev. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Kasper, Big Sky Conference.2 / 3
UND forward Drick Bernstine drives toward the basket during Friday’s semifinal game of the Big Sky tournament against Weber State in Reno, Nev. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Kasper, Big Sky Conference3 / 3

RENO, Nev. -- Earlier this season, the University of North Dakota beat Weber State for the first time since the Fighting Hawks joined the Big Sky Conference in 2012.

UND’s next goal is to beat Weber in postseason play.

The Fighting Hawks nearly accomplished that mission Friday, but top-seeded Weber State rallied for an 83-78 overtime win over UND in a well-played, intense semifinal round game in the Big Sky tournament.

Weber advances to the Big Sky title game Saturday while UND (17-15) now awaits word of a possible invitation next week to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

“It was a high-level college basketball game,” said UND coach Brian Jones. “It was evenly balanced; there were a lot of big-time plays.”

The biggest play came from Weber’s Jeremy Senglin, who hit a deep 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 64-64.

The Hawks had a chance to win it, but Geno Crandall’s jumper from the free-throw line was short; Adam McDermott then tried an off-balance putback but 6-foot-9 Joel Bolomboy -- the league’s player of the year -- swatted the ball out of bounds as the clock ran out. Bolomboy, a projected NBA Draft pick, finished with 17 points and 19 rebounds.

In overtime, Weber (25-8) never trailed. Senglin, who scored 31 points, hit another deep 3-pointer on the Wildcats’ first possession for a 67-64 lead. UND tied the game at 67-67 on a Crandall free throw with 3:37 left.

But the Wildcats scored on their next possession and eventually went up 79-74 on a Kyndahl Hill free throw with 28 seconds to go.

Still, the Hawks wouldn’t go away.

Quinton Hooker, who equaled his career-high with 38 points, scored with 11.4 seconds left to cut the deficit to 79-78. Weber then picked up two Dusty Baker free throws with 10.4 seconds to go before Crandall missed two free throws with 7.1 seconds left, which ended the Hawks’ bid for their biggest upset since joining the league.

“Congrats to North Dakota; that’s a heck of a basketball team right there,” said Weber coach Randy Rahe. “They were playing as good as anyone in the conference. It’s tough to lose a game like that.”

Senglin made plays throughout, finishing with 31 points, making 10 of 19 from the field, including a 7-for-12 showing on 3-pointers.

“Sometimes, you have to find ways to make plays,” added Rahe. “Sometimes, that all you do. You need guys with toughness and fight and we have guys with toughness and fight.”

The game was close throughout; neither team led by more than six points. UND led for 17 minutes, 42 seconds, while Weber led for 18:09.

“We played to our fullest,” said Hooker. “We made plays; they made plays. They just made a few more plays.”

Crandall, who finished with 14 points, said his shot to win it wasn’t one that was planned in the UND huddle after Senglin drained his 3-pointer.

“We drew something up for ‘Q,’” said Crandall. “They denied him. I had a solid look. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Despite being outsized, UND managed to outrebound Weber 39-37. And the Hawks shot reasonably well at 44 percent.

“They made 14 three-pointers to our three,” added Jones. “But I’m not going to fault our guys. Our guys played extremely hard. It was a great game, a great semifinal game. It was hard to see either team lose because they both left it out on the court.”

UND is a relative newcomer to the Big Sky but the Hawks have fared well in the league’s postseason tournament.

The loss dropped UND to 6-3 in Big Sky postseason play. All three losses have come against Weber -- in the 2013 semifinals and in the 2014 title game. Now, Weber moves on with its latest win over UND.

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
(701) 780-1268
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