MEN'S BASKETBALL: Sioux surge to top Mayville State
It's the season to be festive. Good cheer, however, likely didn't exist inside the UND men's basketball locker room at halftime of the Sioux game against Mayville State on Tuesday night. ?Let's say it was a man-to-man talk,? UND senior Emmanuel L...
It's the season to be festive.
Good cheer, however, likely didn't exist inside the UND men's basketball locker room at halftime of the Sioux game against Mayville State on Tuesday night.
"Let's say it was a man-to-man talk," UND senior Emmanuel Little said, referring to coach Brian Jones' halftime talk.
Mayville State led the Sioux by 11 points at halftime, which prompted Jones' words of encouragement. The Sioux listened closely and responded with a 62-point second half to down the Comets 100-88 before 1,488 fans in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
It was UND's eighth straight win and improved the Sioux to 8-3.
Little carried the Sioux in the second half. His explosiveness to the basket, his offensive rebounding and his fluid play in transition all figured into the comeback win.
The 6-foot-5 senior was especially effective in the first four minutes of the second half. The Sioux trailed 49-38 at the break, but came back to tie the game at 51 four minutes into the second half. Little, who finished with a career-high 33 points and 12 rebounds, scored eight points in the first four minutes.
The Sioux eventually took the lead for good at 61-60 on two Little free throws with 14:03 to go. Little's signature play came with 9:27 to go. He collared a rebound off O.J. Harrison's missed free throw and scored, drawing a foul in the process. His three-point play gave UND a 67-62 lead.
The Sioux built their lead to 13 with seven minutes to play. The Comets could come no closer than eight points.
"Give UND credit for how hard they played in the second half, especially Little," Mayville coach Justin Johnson said. "From an effort perspective, I was proud of how hard we played. But they took it to us in the second half."
The win was a sign of progress as far as Jones was concerned.
"Last year's team wouldn't have responded like this year's team," said Jones, who is in his second season as UND's coach. "Emmanuel set the tone. He willed us to the victory."
Mayville's first-half performance flustered the Sioux. The Comets shot 62 percent. The Sioux also had a hard time stopping Tremel Gilot's perimeter shooting and his drives to the basket. The Mayville senior finished with 29 points. Off the bench, Tyler Sundby added 21 for the Comets, while Marques Banjamin finished with 17.
"Everyone was a little rattled," Little said of UND's halftime demeanor. "Coach gave us some words. He said to get it together and get going."
The Sioux transition game in the first four minutes of the second half quickly cut UND's deficit.
"They got some easy baskets in transition," Johnson said. "And we struggled to get easy looks at the basket in the second half, and that's a credit to UND."
Little's 33 points were the most for a UND player since former All-American Jerome Beasley scored 34 against South Dakota in 2003. Also, UND's last 100-point game came on Nov. 24, 2003. The Sioux went 98 games between 100-point outings, their longest drought since going 122 games without hitting the century mark between 1977 and 1981.
"They have a good team," Little said of the 6-7 NAIA Comets. "They went to the nationals last year. We were down 11 and we knew we had to execute."
Little received help from Ervin Youmans, who added 25 points. Travis Bledsoe added 13 points, followed by Darius Joseph's 11.