UND basketball teams to close out regular seasons against North Dakota State

UND men's team won't advance to Summit tournament

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UND's Matt Norman (2) tries to push his way past St. Thomas guard Riley Miller (10) in the first half of a home men's basketball game at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks on Tuesday, February 22, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – It hasn’t been the season the UND men’s basketball team anticipated. But there is one thing left to achieve – and that would be a silver lining in an otherwise disappointing year.

UND will close out the season on Saturday against rival North Dakota State at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The Bison are shooting for the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Summit League tournament while UND’s only remaining satisfaction would be to beat its rival and wreck NDSU’s bid for a No. 2 seed.

UND reached the Summit title game in 2020, falling to the Bison in Sioux Falls.

Since then, UND went 9-17 last season and will take a 6-24 mark into its final game of this season.

This season, UND was hurt by the transfer portal, losing standout center Filip Rebraca, who is playing big minutes at Iowa, and 6-foot-4 guard Tyree Ihenacho. Also, UND had injuries to two returning starters and a roster defection.


Also, UND has been playing three freshmen considerably. All of that has factored into a disappointing season.

“We’re going to try and make a statement,” said UND freshman guard Reid Grant. “That’s all you can do at this point.”

The top eight teams in the league qualify for the Summit tournament. Until Thursday, UND still had an outside chance, but its loss to Summit newcomer St. Thomas knocked the Hawks from contention for the eighth – and final – spot.

UND has lost seven of its past 10 games against the Bison. The Hawks last beat NDSU in January of 2021 when UND downed the Bison 82-78 in overtime at The Betty.

“We have a great opportunity on Saturday,” said UND coach Paul Sather. “We have nothing to lose so hopefully we’ll have some fun and compete and give North Dakota state our best.”

With a number of younger players playing big minutes, one of UND’s biggest downfalls this season has been its inability to make big plays down the stretch.

UND let home games against Western Illinois, Denver and league leader South Dakota State slip away in the closing minutes.

“I think we have proven we can compete with every team in the conference,” said Grant. “It’s just that we haven’t been able to finish it.”


There is one UND side note to watch against the Bison.

Freshman Paul Bruns needs six points to break the all-time UND freshman scoring record. Bruns has scored 449 points this season and has a team-best 15.0 points-per-game scoring average.

UND women closes against BisonUntil recently, the UND women’s team had a shot at the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Summit League tournament.

However, three-straight losses have knocked the Hawks out of contention for the No. 3 seed.

Instead, they’ll either be the No. 4 or No.5 seed in Sioux Falls. And they know their first-round opponent. It will be against Oral Roberts, which also will be the No. 4 or No. 5 seed.

The teams split on the season, each winning on its home floor.

First, though, UND (9-8 Summit, 15-13 overall) closes out its regular season Saturday at North Dakota State.

The fact that UND is playing its rival just before the postseason can be a good thing, said UND coach Mallory Bernhard.


“There never is a lack of fire to get ready for this game,” said Bernhard. “It’s hard not to bring a ton of energy.

“We’ve been on a little bit of a downslide lately. We know things need to get better and I’m not sure there is a better team to play than NDSU to get your team incredibly focused.”

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
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