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The second half of the Big Sky Conference season began Saturday. For UND, the beginning of the league's stretch run looked promising—especially the Hawks' ability to shoot the basketball. UND shot the ball 40 percent from the field in the first half of the league season. In its start to the second half of league play, UND shot a blistering 59 percent in running past Northern Arizona 88-69 before 1,802 fans at The Betty.
UND was in cruise control for roughly 30 minutes, slowly—but surely—taking care of business against Southern Utah. The Fighting Hawks then hit a speed bump. Still, UND was in control. Surprisingly, SUU then managed to throw a major road block at UND in the closing minutes. What was a leisurely drive toward another Big Sky Conference women's basketball win turned into a white-knuckle ride in the closing seconds. UND, however, had enough to take a 75-70 win over SUU on Thursday night before 1,563 fans at The Betty.
CEDAR CITY, Utah—There is a reason why Quinton Hooker was named the Big Sky Conference preseason player of the year. The UND senior delivers when the game is on the line. Hooker delivered again, hitting the game-winning shot with 1.1 seconds to go as UND downed Southern Utah 91-89 on Thursday night in a Big Sky game. Hooker's game-winner was a step-back, 16-footer that lifted UND to 7-2 in the Big Sky and 12-7 overall. It was UND's third-straight league win. Hooker finished with 23 points and sophomore Geno Crandall equaled his career-high with 31 points.
In July of 2008, UND athletics found its first Division I home—the mighty Great West Conference. Yes, it was a conference. No, it wasn't going to be UND's home forever. Simply, it was a scheduling alliance to help fledgling Division I programs. In July of 2012, UND athletics found its second Division I home—the massive, well-established and successful Big Sky Conference. UND, it appeared, finally found its permanent Division I home.
Hammer earns honor The University of Jamestown's Taylor Hammer is the North Star Athletic Association's player of the week in women's basketball. Hammer, a former Grand Forks Central standout, averaged a double-double in leading the Jimmies to wins over Dakota State and Mayville State last week. She scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Dakota State and followed that by scoring 17 points and added 11 rebounds a day later against Mayville. She has eight double-doubles this season, including five in her past eight games.
UND's start against Idaho State was anything but ideal. The Fighting Hawks found themselves trailing by 15 points nine minutes into the game against a Big Sky Conference opponent that had won only one road game this season. The reason for UND's slow start? Perhaps the Hawks' emotional win over league power Weber State two days earlier had something to do with it. UND, however, awoke in time and sprinted past Idaho State 89-64 on Saturday before 2,570 fans at The Betty. The win improved to UND to 6-2 in the Big Sky and 11-7 overall. Idaho State fell to 1-5 and 4-15.
UND's mission today at The Betty is simple: Forget Thursday's night's win over Weber State and concentrate on the task at hand. That sound's simple. Whether that happens remains to be seen. With its emotional 83-77 win over Big Sky Conference power Weber State on Thursday, UND pulled off one of its bigger men's basketball wins since joining the league in 2012. It's a win that could serve as a springboard for UND in its attempt to win its first league title.
Boys basketball 6 Friday's results Devils Lake 76, Fargo North 62 Northern Cass 72, Hillsboro-Central Valley 69 Mandan 74, Williston 68 Carrington 73, Barnes County North 42 Dunseith 73, Westhope-Newburg 58 Dickinson 111, Turtle Mountain 56 Park Christian 71, Climax-Fisher 46 Thief River Falls 69, Cloquet 52 Waubun 63, Mahnomen 48 Dilworth-G-F 68, Hawley 63 Nevis 76, Kelliher-Northome 40 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 68, Blackduck 59
The halfway point of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball season has yet to arrive. But UND's highly entertaining and emotional 83-77 win over Weber State on Thursday night at The Betty had the feeling of postseason play. And that's likely a good sign for the rest of the season as UND's win came against a traditional league power before 2,362 fans.
Since UND joined the Big Sky Conference in 2012, the schedule-makers haven't been necessarily kind to the Fighting Hawks. Each season, it seems, UND plays traditional Big Sky powers Montana and Weber State on back-to-back weekends. And that's happened again this season. Weber State will play UND at The Betty tonight in what could be the marquee home game of the season for the Fighting Hawks.