UND MEN'S BASKETBALL: UND 66, Houston Baptist 62

Late in the game, UND's Division I men's basketball team was shooting 10 percent from the foul line in a Great West Conference contest against Houston Baptist.

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

Late in the game, UND's Division I men's basketball team was shooting 10 percent from the foul line in a Great West Conference contest against Houston Baptist.

UND was 2-for-20 on free-throw attempts and barely hanging on against Houston Baptist.

The Sioux free-throw shooting, an irritant all season, couldn't be explained by players or coaches.

"I have no idea why," said UND sophomore guard Aaron Anderson.

But Anderson made enough free throws in the final two minutes to lead the Sioux to a 66-62 win against HBU on Saturday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.


There is no official UND record for free-throw futility, but the latest performance by the Sioux will be a point of reference for a long time.

"It's all confidence when you step to the line," said Anderson, who scored 15 points. "Since we all were missing so much, our confidence was going down."

UND held a 57-53 lead when Anderson went to the line with 1:49 remaining. He missed his first attempt (dropping the Sioux to 2-for-20), but hit the second -- producing the loudest roar of the day from the 1,576 Sioux fans in attendance.

His thoughts when a foul shot finally went in?

"I was thankful so we could get that monkey off our back," Anderson said.

After Anderson's make, UND went 6-for-8 from the line to seal the win. For the game, UND was 9-for-29 -- a 31 percent showing.

UND improved to 4-4 in the Great West and 13-14 overall. The win was significant in that the Sioux -- mathematically -- still have a shot to finish second in the Great West regular-season race.

Still, UND's free-throw shooting was the talk of the game.


"I've never seen anything like that," UND coach Brian Jones said. "But give our guys credit, they made them down the stretch.

"As weird as it seems, this is the type of game that can generate a lot of momentum for us. We played poorly in one area, free throws, but if we make 70 percent we win by 15."

UND's play in the first four minutes was as sharp as it's been this season. The Sioux started the game on a 16-2 run, hitting four straight 3-pointers. Patrick Mitchell (10 points), Brandon Brekke (10) and Jamal Webb (15) all had a big hand in the blistering start.

And Webb's 30-footer at the first-half buzzer gave the Sioux a 40-31 lead.

"We were moving the ball," Jones said of UND's start. "There was inside-out action on the offensive end. But our guys relaxed a bit after that and they thought it would be that easy all day. It wasn't. HBU really got back into it and started getting some defensive stops.

"We got jump-shot happy and stopped going inside-out. And that's when they started trimming into our lead."

HBU's Marcus Davis (22) hit a 3-pointer with 8:48 left, giving the Huskies a 53-51 lead. But Josh Schuler responded with a 3-pointer on UND's next possession for a two-point Sioux lead.

From there, UND had enough to hang on. And the team's effort at the line finally improved once Anderson hit the back end of two attempts with 1:49 left.


"We hit them when it counted and got the 'W'," Anderson said. "That helps cancels out the other stuff."

What To Read Next
Get Local