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Young UND team improves to 4-1 with win over Concorida (Neb.)

GRAND FORKS -- With 11 new players, the University of North Dakota's youth will be tested a time or two early in the season. With two experienced seniors, however, those tests have been made a little easier for UND's youth. Seniors Conner Avants ...

Fighting Hawks guard Cortez Seales drives against Concordia University's Ryan Holt at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center during Tuesday's basketball game. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Fighting Hawks guard Cortez Seales outsprints Concordia University's Ryan Holt (right) down the court at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center during Tuesday's basketball game. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS -- With 11 new players, the University of North Dakota’s youth will be tested a time or two early in the season.

With two experienced seniors, however, those tests have been made a little easier for UND’s youth.

Seniors Conner Avants (22 points) and Cortez Seales (15) led the Fighting Hawks past Concordia, Neb., 89-56 on Tuesday night at The Betty before 1,374 fans -- a win that improved UND’s record to 4-1.

The Hawks never were in any serious trouble and steadily pulled away after an 8-0 run gave them a 32-22 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.

“I talked to Conner and Tez before the game about them setting the tone,” said UND coach Brian Jones. “When you’re coming off a lopsided victory (112-58 over Minn.-Morris on Saturday), you may have a tendency to float a little bit. I wanted them to lead by example. And they came out strong.”

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Concordia, an NAIA program that plays in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, came in at 5-3. The Bulldogs were 10-of-30 on 3-point attempts and made half of them in the game’s first 15 minutes. They also did an effective job on the offensive boards early and finished with 11.

But UND dominated the boards the rest of the way, finishing with a 45-28 advantage.

Freshman Filip Rebraca recorded his first double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds). The 6-foot-9 forward from Sombor, Serbia, credited Avants and Seales for their leadership.

“They stepped up and showed us younger guys the way we’re supposed to play,” said Rebraca. “We just followed their lead.”

The Hawks also shot 57 percent, aided by Billy Brown’s 6-for-7 showing from the field (14 points).

UND played Kentucky last week, then came home to play a Division III program and an NAIA team.

The Hawks now hit the road for games at Utah Valley on Saturday before taking on Montana State on Nov. 27.

UND’s expected home wins against Morris and Concordia gave the Hawks another chance to develop their youthful roster.

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“Many times, I’d look out there and see we had freshman, freshman, sophomore, sophomore on the floor,” said Jones. “You have to stop and realize that they’re going through this for the first time.”

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