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UND men's basketball exacts revenge on NDSU with win in Fargo

Dale Jones, left, and Geno Crandall of North Dakota pull in a North Dakota State rebound during their basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 2
Deng Geu of North Dakota State is fouled by Geno Crandall of North Dakota during their basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

FARGO—Earlier in the day, Bill Chaves was introduced as UND's new athletic director.

Later in the day, Chaves was sitting courtside at the UND-North Dakota State men's basketball game at the Scheels Center.

So, the Fighting Hawks figured they should make a good first impression on the new AD.

They did.

In another solid overall performance, UND led from start to finish in beating the rival Bison 86-77 before 4,105 fans Tuesday night. It was the third straight win for the Hawks. And like the previous two, UND dialed up its recipe for success—good shooting, good defense and the ability to capitalize on its opponent's mistakes.

"It was a direct flip of what happened in our building," said UND coach Brian Jones, referring to the 88-79 NDSU win in Grand Forks last month. "Our start was the key. And we made shots, 10 three-pointers in the first half. Our team is capable of that and you have to give our kids credit for getting in the extra work and believing. They had confidence tonight."

For whatever reason, the home court doesn't mean much in the rivalry. The visiting team has won the past five games in the series.

UND (7-11) led the entire way, backed by its season-high 12 three-pointers and 48 percent shooting. The Bison (10-9), known for their perimeter game, struggled from deep, making only 6 of 25 from beyond the arc.

UND gained the upper hand with a 14-4 run late in the first half for a 46-34 advantage. In that span, UND hit four 3-pointers—one from Tray Buchanan (10 points), two from Marlon Stewart (game-high 20), and one from Dale Jones (17).

"The last three games, we've shown the kind of team we can be," said Jones, referring to his team's recent shooting surge.

UND started strong in the second half as well and another 3-pointer from Stewart gave the Hawks a 57-41 lead with 16:44 to go.

But the Bison, led by Paul Miller's 27 points, had a few mini-surges—the last one that cut the UND lead to 68-64 with 8:33 to go.

Geno Crandall, however, answered that surge with seven straight points—including a highlight-reel, one-handed floater in the lane that resulted in a three-point play. Crandall finished with 12 points.

"Our energy was amazing tonight," said Crandall.

UND was opportunistic as well, converting 17 NDSU turnovers into 32 points.

Those turnovers, for the most part, kept the Bison fans from making a difference.

"We've played before big crowds before and we kept our composure," said Stewart. "We didn't let it affect us."

Instead of a white-knuckle finish, UND was in control the final four minutes. A big basket for UND was Conner Avants' tough inside rebound and putback for an 81-69 lead with 3:21 to go. Avants scored 17 points. He was one of five UND players in double figures.

It was an energetic play, the kind that kept UND ahead throughout.

"They played with great energy," said NDSU coach Dave Richman.

And that was noticed by Chaves, the new UND AD.

"You can't beat a start like that," said the new athletic director as a small number of UND fans celebrated the win.

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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