MEN'S BASKETBALL: UND manages to top Southern Utah 65-61
The bulk of the Big Sky Conference season remains. But UND perhaps was facing a must-win situation Thursday night at The Betty. UND managed to move forward in the Big Sky, rallying for a 65-61 win over Southern Utah before 1,573 fans. UND improve...
The bulk of the Big Sky Conference season remains. But UND perhaps was facing a must-win situation Thursday night at The Betty.
UND managed to move forward in the Big Sky, rallying for a 65-61 win over Southern Utah before 1,573 fans. UND improved to 1-1 in the Big Sky and 4-8 overall.
UND came into the game with only one Division I win and its defense in recent games had been struggling.
"We've been playing decent basketball but we weren't a very confident team," said UND coach Brian Jones. "To finish in the upper half of the Big Sky, you have to win your home games."
And the home team has to beat an opponent that's been struggling. SUU came into the game with eight straight losses by an average of 27 points per game. The Thunderbirds dropped to 0-1 and 1-9.
But SUU's streak nearly came to an end as the Thunderbirds - with a bigger lineup - gave North Dakota fits most of the night.
UND, however, went to perhaps the smallest lineup it could put on the floor and it paid off in the second half.
UND trailed 57-54 with 4:11 to go but North Dakota finished the game on an 11-4 run, highlighted by the play of two seniors - Troy Huff and Jamal Webb.
Huff scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Webb finished with 14 - 11 of those points coming in the final 8:27.
Huff, Webb and freshman Quinton Hooker combined to score eight straight points, giving UND a 62-57 advantage with 57 seconds to play.
SUU, led by Trey Kennedy's 20 points, pulled to within 64-61 with 8 seconds to go but Huff pulled down a missed free throw attempt by Kennedy, was fouled, and went to the line for two free throws with 6 seconds to go to seal the win.
"Our defense was big," said Jones. "That was the difference."
UND came up with 11 steals, five by Huff and three by Webb.
Even with the small lineup, UND was only outrebounded 32-30.
"We played a lot of small ball last year, so it wasn't new," said Webb. "You just have to adjust. The big thing was we got stops and rebounds in the second half.
"This win will help us go forward."
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