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North Dakota State pours it on in the second half, routs North Dakota 79-53

UND closes out it season at 6-25

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UND's Ethan Igbanugo (21) drives toward the basket against the defense of NDSU's Maleeck Harden-Hayes during their Summit League basketball game Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – North Dakota State gave a great indication where it is headed Saturday. A high seed in the upcoming Summit League men’s basketball tournament is definite and a trip to the title game and a berth in the NCAA Tournament are strong possibilities, too.

UND showed where it’s headed as well. The Hawks are simply headed to next season after the Bison manhandled UND 79-53 before 2,541 fans at The Betty – a disappointing loss against its rival that closed out their season.

UND ended 2-16 in the Summit and 6-25 overall. The Hawks didn’t qualify for the Summit tournament and finished with their fewest wins since the 1959-1960 season.

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UND freshman Paul Bruns (23) drives to the basket in front of NDSU's Tyree Eady during their Summit League basketball game Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

“We have a lot of work to do,” said UND coach Paul Sather. “You appreciate how our players handled a difficult year but this is not acceptable, either. And it starts with me. It starts with our staff and players. We have to make sure we’re working hard, working smart and working together.”

NDSU’s length and strength were too much for UND in a game where the Bison used a 14-0 run to start the second half.

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UND was hanging around at halftime, trailing 34-25 despite shooting 39 percent and being on the wrong end of a 21-11 rebounding advantage. The low shooting percentage included a handful of missed shots at the rim.

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NDSU's Rocky Kreuser (34) and UND's Tsotne Tsartsidze leap for the ball during the opening tipoff of their game Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

The Bison second-half surge was led by Grant Nelson, a redshirt 6-foot-11 forward from Devils Lake. Nelson led NDSU with 17 points, dropping in 4 of 5 three-points attempts. Of NDSU’s first 14 points to start the second half, 12 came on 3-pointers.

“We haven’t started some second halves very well this season,” said NDSU coach Dave Richman. “I thought that was a growing experience for us today. Obviously, it’s nice to have the ball go through the hole, but for the better part of the game we were pretty engaged defensively.”

UND didn't have an answer for the Bison inside-out game as NDSU shot 11 of 23 from beyond the arc.

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Bentiu Panoam, a UND senior guard, dribbles toward the lane during the first half of the Hawks' loss to NDSU Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks.
Korrie Wenzel / Grand Forks Herald

“They made some big threes coming out to start the second half,” said Sather. “It wasn’t like we were trying to give them open looks. We were more focused on trying to take away the post from them.”

Nelson is a scoring threat from all over. And he also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

“We started getting hot, feeding inside-out,” said Nelson. “We knew once that clicked, we’d go. We got rolling. It’s a big advantage. It gives us an opportunity to have mismatches on offense pretty much one through five.”

Nelson was one of two NDSU starters from the state, with Jamestown’s Boden Skunberg the other.

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The game against the Hawks meant something to Nelson.

“We knew we had to come out swinging,” said Nelson. “It’s an in-state rivalry. We knew we had to come out with energy and it carried over. This is what we play for. Hopefully, it transfers over to the tournament and we play our best basketball.”

Rocky Kreuser, Tyree Eady and Jarius Cook joined Nelson in double figures as all finished with 10 points.

UND was led by Ethan Igbanugo’s 16 points while Paul Bruns, who broke UND’s freshman scoring record, finished with 11 points and Brady Danielson 10.

NDSU improved to 13-5 in the Summit and 21-9 overall. And the Bison secured the No. 3 seed in the upcoming league tournament.

And the Bison know exactly what’s at stake at this point in the season.

“When you talk about college basketball, especially mid-major college basketball, late February and March is go-time,” said NDSU’s Sam Griesel. “We know that. We have a very veteran group so we took the approach to be locked in all week and obviously today, too.”UND, meanwhile, played three true freshmen considerably this season and battled opponent experience, length and strength throughout the Summit season.

“In the last 20 minutes, you saw a very experienced NDSU team that just took over,” said Sather.

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Igbanugo was one of three seniors honored before the game, with Bentiu Panoam and Mitchell Sueker the other two.

“At this level, you’re going to face teams with a lot of length and athleticism but that’s something we have to adjust to and I’m sure a game like this will help for the future,” said Igbanugo.

Related Topics: UND BASKETBALL
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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