UND MEN'S BASKETBALL: Despite 20-0 run by UTPA Sioux survive 63-59

CHICAGO -- In the regular-season finale against Utah Valley, UND ran a play for guard Aaron Anderson to drive for the game-winning basket. Against the Wolverines, the sophomore missed his shot before teammate Patrick Mitchell put back the rebound...

Fighting Sioux logo
Fighting Sioux logo (AP Photo/University of North Dakota via The Dickinson Press, File)

CHICAGO -- In the regular-season finale against Utah Valley, UND ran a play for guard Aaron Anderson to drive for the game-winning basket. Against the Wolverines, the sophomore missed his shot before teammate Patrick Mitchell put back the rebound at the buzzer for the game winner.

The Sioux ran the same play Friday afternoon in the closing stages of a Great West Conference semifinal tournament game against Texas-Pan American.

The play was successful again, but this time Anderson was the hero.

Anderson's three-point play with 16 seconds remaining helped cap UND's second-half rally and a 63-59 win over the Broncs at the Jones Convocation Center on the campus of Chicago State.

"With these guys, I never don't believe," UND coach Brian Jones said. "Between this year and last year, they've proved to me they know how to win. It's not always pretty, but at least they give you a chance to win."


The Sioux, who improved to 16-14, advance to the Great West championship game for the second year in a row. UND, the No. 2 seed, will face No. 4 seed New Jersey Tech in the title game at 4:30 p.m. today. The Highlanders upset No. 1 seed Utah Valley in the semifinals in overtime.

The winner of the Great West title game receives an automatic bid into the tournament, which the Sioux played in last season. UND lost to Air Force in the first round in Colorado Springs.

UND landed in the championship game despite going the final 8 minutes, 12 seconds of the first half without a point.

UTPA, which finished the year 11-21, closed the first half on a 20-0 run. The Broncs' biggest lead came early in the second half when Aaron Urbanus hit a jumper to put UTPA up 39-23 with 19:07 remaining.

But the Sioux responded with a 27-5 stretch over the next 13 minutes to grab a six-point advantage.

The teams would then traded leads until Jamal Webb, who finished with a game-high 19 points, scored on a drive to cut the UTPA lead to 57-56. Webb, who added six rebounds, scored on an offensive putback on UND's next possession to give the Sioux the lead.

After UND forward Troy Huff tipped a 3-point attempt by UTPA's Nick Weiermiller with 45 seconds left, Anderson completed the decisive play.

The Broncs responded to Anderson's basket and free throw with a quick lay-in by Brandon Provost to cut the Sioux lead to two with 9 seconds to go.


But Anderson iced the win at the foul line where he connected on both attempts with 6 seconds left for the final margin.

The discussion (at halftime) was about coming out and playing defense, said Anderson, who finished with 12 points.

"We were a little sluggish in the first half." Anderson said. "They were beating us in all categories. Our coaches always say stay the course. It was going to be a game of runs, so just try to win every four-minute game."

The Sioux, who trailed by 14 at halftime, registered just their second comeback win of the year. The only other rally was against North Dakota State earlier this year at the Ralph.

"We always believe and stay the course, said Webb, who was 9-for-13 from the field. "We knew we had 20 minutes. It's a long game. Anything can happen. We knew if we played a little defense we could come back."

The Sioux held UTPA to 22 second-half points.

"That's more like our defense," Jones said. "We got back by taking the fight to them. We knocked balls loose and got easy baskets. That generated the offense for us. Sometimes we can be stagnant. But when we're flying around, we're pretty good."

UND outscored the Broncs 16-8 on the fastbreak and 21-13 off turnovers.


"We knew limiting them in transition would be real important," UTPA coach Ryan Marks said. "Anderson and Webb are terrific in the open floor and Huff gets out and runs."

UND survived despite being outshot severely from the 3-point line. UTPA was 8-for-15 led by Provost's 5-for-6 showing while UND was 3-for-18 from deep.

The Sioux had three players in double figures: Webb finished with 19, Huff had 17 and Anderson had 12.

UTPA finished with two players in double figures, led by Provost with 17 and Jesus Delgado, who had all 13 of his points in the first half. Delgado, a junior college transfer, came into the game averaging less than 5 points per game.

UND had to handle limited contributions from Mitchell (four points) because of foul trouble, while the Sioux bench also added just five points.

"Give North Dakota a tremendous amount of credit," Marks said. "They're the returning champs. They know how to win close games. They have a good barometer of how to deal with adversity through the course of a game. They made great plays down the stretch."

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to .

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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