Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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OMAHA, Neb.—Creighton men's basketball is the big show in Omaha. The Bluejays, coached by former UND assistant Greg McDermott, regularly play before more than 17,000 fans at the CenturyLink Center. The Bluejays already have played four teams ranked in the AP Top 25 poll this season and are in the mix to compete for the Big East title. Tonight, UND will be in the national spotlight as the Fighting Hawks take on Creighton and McDermott, who still has ties to Grand Forks and UND.
For nearly 30 minutes, UND managed to stay within striking distance of Northern Iowa. The Fighting Hawks weren't particularly shooting well, but they did have one advantage. Lexi Klabo was playing her usual game. Klabo, UND's 6-foot-3 junior center, has shown she can carry her team at times this season. And she did that again Saturday, scoring a career-high 29 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in leading UND to an 80-72 win over Northern Iowa before 1,877 fans at The Betty.
MINNEAPOLIS—UND knew it was up against one of the top college volleyball programs in the country in the Minnesota Gophers. But the Fighting Hawks also knew they could compete against the Gophers. UND did compete, but the Gophers remain one of the top teams in the country after Minnesota downed UND 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before 4,526 fans at Maturi Pavilion.
Since the season started, UND coach Brian Jones has been talking about his team being able to understand the process of college basketball—what it takes to win on a consistent basis. With seven new faces on the UND roster, that's been his overriding message since Day 1. That was the message again Tuesday night after UND downed Presentation College of Aberdeen, S.D., 82-75 at The Betty—a win that had bright moments and lackluster moments for the Fighting Hawks. The Hawks improved to 4-3 while Presentation—an NAIA program—came in at 4-4.
Minutes after UND beat Sacramento State for the Big Sky Conference, Fighting Hawks volleyball coach Mark Pryor knew where his team was headed for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. To no one's surprise, UND will play at Minnesota on Friday night in the first round of the tournament. The NCAA released the pairings Sunday night. In fact, minutes after UND won the Big Sky, Pryor said he received a text from Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon saying, "See you in two weeks."
SAN ANTONIO, Texas—UND wrapped up its Thanksgiving weekend trip to Texas with another win, this one coming thanks to the Fighting Hawks' defense. UND held Texas-San Antonio scoreless for more than 10 minutes as the Hawks took a 60-47 win on Saturday in the final game of the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic. The Hawks improved to 3-2. UND ended the first half on a 15-0 run, then opened the second half with four straight points to put the game away.
The shots didn't fall for UND on Saturday against Utah Valley. Everything else, however, was in place for the Fighting Hawks—good defense, rebounding and effort. Until the shots do fall, though, UND may find itself in some tough games—like the one against Utah Valley, an up-and-coming mid-major program that prides itself on playing any team, any place, any time.
Like UND, Utah Valley is a mid-major men's basketball program. Like UND, Utah Valley also needs to play guarantee—or money games—on the road—usually against Power 5 programs. But Utah Valley may have taken guarantee games to a new level earlier this season. UND hosts Utah Valley today at The Betty in perhaps one of the more difficult home game for the Hawks this season. Utah Valley is 3-2 this season, with its losses coming at No. 8 Kentucky and No. 1 Duke.
Men's basketball 6 Tuesday's results UND 79, Northland 48 NOR 25 23 --48 UND 36 43 --79 Northland—Brandon Galland 3-10 4-5 12, Benny Larry 1-7 4-6 7, Matt Zorn 3-6 1-1 7, Harrison Lucas 1-7 0-0 3, Thomas Whiting 3-8 1-2 7, Ben Arqueros 1-2 0-0 2, Kyler Hagen 0-2 0-1 0, Nathan Nicholls 1-6 1-23, Jake Dunbar 1-3 0-0 3, Gus Farrell 2-3 0-0 4, Tyler VanVlack 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-55 11-17 48
UND started its season with three games in Hawaii. Then, the Fighting Hawks played Big Ten member Nebraska two days ago before more than 10,000 fans. UND's home opener came Tuesday night against Northland College of Ashland, Wis., a Division III program. The game didn't have the buzz of a trip to Hawaii or a shot against a Big Ten team. That may have had something to do with UND's sluggish start. When reality sunk in, however, UND responded and cruised to a 79-48 win before 1,570 fans at The Betty.