Senior guard Aaron Anderson jumps with the ball last Saturday against Northern Arizona at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND claimed the 84-68 victory. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.
After an 82-71 victory over Sacramento State on Thursday, UND continued its winning streak by defeating Northern Arizona 84-68 Saturday afternoon for a third win in a row — a season-high win streak for UND.
The two wins placed North Dakota third in the Big Sky Conference standings.
Last season, UND beat Northern Arizona by two as the visiting team, only to play the Lumberjacks at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center weeks later and lose in overtime by one basket.
This year, both the fans and the players were prepared.
The Betty held more than 1,800 spirited fans Saturday, which helped spark UND’s (8-10, 5-3 BSC) immediate and game-lasting energy. Seven steals and two blocks contributed to Northern Arizona’s (8-11, 5-3 BSC) 16 turnovers while North Dakota held its own on the defensive end.
“Our energy was high throughout the game and our bench was fantastic yet again,” UND coach Brian Jones said of his team’s performance.
The offense the home team executed was just as successful as its defense. UND had less than half the turnovers as its guest and, for the first time this season, there were five UND players putting up double figures.
Leading with 15 points, senior Jamal Webb came off the bench and scored all three of his attempted 3-pointers. UND had a higher shooting percentage from the 3-point-line than it did inside of it, boasting a 56.5 arc-percentage and 50 from inside, Webb playing a large part.
Cole Stefan contributed a season-high 13 points and Jaron Nash adding 12. Center Ryan Salmonson did work down low, bucketing 10 points for the team, while guard Aaron Anderson added 13 from the field.
While UND and Northern Arizona matched scores five times and saw eight lead changes, the fluctuation stopped for good after a 12-2 run by North Dakota put the score at 32-23. UND held onto its lead and went into the half with a 43-36 edge.
With the help of North Dakota’s sharp perimeter shooters, the second half saw the home team solidify its winning margin as Nash’s 3-pointer put UND ahead by double digits, where it remained for the rest of the contest.
Senior Troy Huff, who scored 20 points in Thursday night’s game, sunk eight more points Saturday — just enough to push him past NBA’s Phil Jackson and into fifth place in UND’s all time scoring records with 1,736 total points.
UND continues on its second of four straight road games Saturday against fifth-ranked Portland State. The Green and White defeated the Vikings in both meetings last season, but Jones remains focused on improvement.
“We’ve got some confidence … We’ve got to continue to defend better,” Jones said. “There’s not a coach in the league that’s happy with their defense right now and I’m no different.”
The game is set for 9 p.m. CST. on the Viking’s home court where the team has been 8-3 so far.
Marie Monson is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]