Hawks fall at Montana, drop to 0-3 in the Big Sky
MISSOULA, Mont.--The North Dakota men's basketball team's farewell tour of the Big Sky Conference got off to a rocky start Thursday night. Montana kept the defending league champion winless in league play with a 109-79 win at Dahlberg Arena. Thei...
MISSOULA, Mont.-The North Dakota men's basketball team's farewell tour of the Big Sky Conference got off to a rocky start Thursday night.
Montana kept the defending league champion winless in league play with a 109-79 win at Dahlberg Arena. Their seventh straight loss dropped the Fighting Hawks to 0-3 in the Big Sky, 4-10 overall. Montana improved to 3-0, 10-5.
North Dakota exited Dahlberg Arena with an 0-6 mark as a member of the Big Sky, falling to 1-10 all-time on Montana's home court. Despite that record, UND coach Brian Jones said he'll miss coming to Missoula on a regular basis.
"I love coming here just because of the fans," Jones said. "It's a great venue to play in. The fans are great. They enjoy good basketball and they're very supportive of the Griz. I love this venue. It will be hard not coming back because we always get up for it. It's always a game you want to compete in."
The Fighting Hawks were never in the game, giving up the first 14 points to the Griz, trailing 50-29 at halftime and by as many as 40 in the second half.
"Guys just competing," Jones said in assessing his team's shortcomings. "Honestly, we came out and mishandled a layup right away, then missed a layup the second possession and our guys were on their heels from there. I felt after those two miscues that our guys were on their heels for about the first eight minutes of the game. We finally made a shot and got back into it, then we had two catastrophic turnovers again that led to dunks and they got separation again."
The Griz enjoyed a huge 54-20 edge in points in the paint against the rebuilding Hawks. Juniors Jamar Akoh and Ahmaad Rorie led the Griz wth 22 points apiece. Akoh added a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman Karl Nicholas came off the bench to add 17 on 8-for-8 shooting.
Tray Buchanan led UND with 16 points and Marlon Stewart added 15.
Things went south in a hurry for the Fighting Hawks, who dropped their first three Big Sky games for the first time since joining the league. While Montana was scoring the first 14 points of the game, UND missed its first 10 shots from the field. The Hawks finally got the lid off the hoop at the 12:44 mark of the first half when Buchanan nailed a 3-pointer, cutting the gap to 14-3.
Cortez Seales scored on a pair of drives - getting an and-one on the first - to get UND within 18-8, but that was the high-water mark for the Fighting Hawks.
"The start of the game, that's all we ever talk about in this building is we have to get off to a good start because they're so good," Jones said. "When you're not ready to compete, fight and be disciplined, it's going to be a hard night for you."
UND will try to avoid an 0-4 start to league play Saturday at Montana State. Jones said he wasn't sure where to start his list of things the Hawks need to improve upon.
"Our leaders need to be better leaders," Jones started. "Our young guys have to start to understand what it takes to compete and win at this level and we have to continue to just fight and understand that it's hard. There's going to be lulls in a game, but your effort and your toughness should never waver because of whether the ball is going in or not."