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Slow start costly to North Dakota men's basketball team

Kansas City takes 89-65 Summit League win over Hawks

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UND's Matt Norman looks to pass the ball as Kansas City's Marvin Nesbitt Jr. defends Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Kansas City slammed and jammed its way to a big lead over North Dakota on Thursday night at The Betty.

The Roos put together a six-minute stretch of highlight-reel, fast-break basketball, punctuated by slam dunks that perhaps slammed the door on UND’s shot at making the Summit League postseason tournament.

The Roos used an 18-0 run during a six-minute stretch of the first half to bounce UND 80-65 – a loss that dropped UND to 2-13 in the Summit and 6-22 overall. Off the court, it wasn’t any better for UND. Omaha rallied in the final minute to beat Denver 72-69, a win that gave the Mavericks a two-game lead over UND with three regular-season games remaining.

UND needs to overtake Omaha for the eighth – and final – seed in next month’s Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls.

Essentially, UND will need to win two of its remaining three games and hope for some help to reach Sioux Falls..

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The Roos led 45-19 late in the first half before the Hawks made some noise. UND eventually cut the deficit to seven points in the second half (61-54) but the Roos – led by guard Evan Gilyard’s 19 points – had more than enough to win for the ninth time in their past 11 games.

“You can’t get down by 26 points to a team with those kinds of players,” said UND coach Paul Sather. “Even if you get it back to a seven-point deficit against that kind of team, that’s a really good effort. But where was that kind of effort in the first 15 minutes?”

“For whatever reason, our guys weren’t ready to come out and compete. And that’s on me. Every guy on the roster wasn’t ready to compete. We’ve been playing better; we’ve been more connected defensively and have had more enthusiasm but tonight at the start we didn’t have that. We were flat and they weren’t. And when it boils down to it, that’s on the head coach. So that’s on me.”

UND’s final three games are against Oral Roberts, which was thumped by North Dakota State on Thursday night, St. Thomas and North Dakota State – perhaps the team playing the best basketball in the Summit lately.

Kansas City, one of the best defensive teams in the league, used its size and physicality to control the inside much of the game.

A slam dunk by Josiah Allick gave the Roos a 42-19 lead with 3:20 left in the half, capping the 18-0 run. At the half, the Roos led 45-26. At that point, UND had eight field goals – seven of them from beyond the arc.

Paul Bruns led UND with 21 points while Matt Norman added 18.

With little – if any – margin for error, the Hawks now face Oral Roberts on Saturday, a team led by the league’s leading scorer, Max Abmas, who led his team to the Sweet 16 of last season’s NCAA tournament.

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“We need to be more engaged like we were the last 22 minutes tonight,” said Sather. “We ended the half on a 7-0 run and started the second half on a 9-0 run against a pretty good team. You just can’t get down by 26.”

UND KC mbb3.jpg
UND's Paul Bruns looks to pass the ball as Kansas City's Josiah Allick defends.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND KC mbb1.jpg
UND's Reid Grant dribbles past Kansas City defender Anderson Kopp in the first half Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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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