UND keeps the ball rolling

Allyson Bento, Sports Editor

UND’s Big Sky future is looking promising. After volleyball and football became champions in their most recent seasons, it looks as though the basketball programs could be on the same path.

Both squads were in action Thursday and Saturday facing Weber State and Idaho State — two of Big Sky’s top contenders and the Fighting Hawks had no problem taking the win in these games.

The men’s team swapped placing with the women after being on the road for the last few match ups and returned to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center to claim their wins on their home court.

Thursday’s game against Weber state was slated to be one of the more difficult teams that UND would face this season. The Bobcats came into Thursday’s game undefeated leading the Big Sky standings 4-0, and the game looked favorable for the Bobcats until the second half.

The Hawks were trailing by eight heading in the second, but their consistency and persistence is what pushed them past the Bobcats.

“I could not be more proud of this team, we competed for the entire 40 minutes tonight against a really good basketball team.”

— Brian Jones

As no surprise, senior guard Quinton Hooker was a key contributor to the score collecting 22 points in the victory, 15 of those points came in the second half.

Hooker however didn’t lead the team in points, sophomore Geno Crandall took that title with 31 points against the Bobcats, which marked a new career-high for the sophomore.

Adding more career high records, Crandall also made 10 of 12 free throw attempts that bumped his average in the last three games to 27.0 PPG.

The Hawks dominated the rebounds 37-22, and junior Drick Bernstine led the team with nine of those, and final would fall into UND’s favor 83-77.

“I could not be more proud of this team,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “We competed for the entire 40 minutes tonight against a really good basketball team. I thought the difference was our defense in the second half. We really turned up the pressure down the stretch and hit some clutch shots to secure the win.”

Weber State didn’t go without a fight in the close contest, senior Jeremy Senglin led the Wildcats with 24 points, which included six 3-pointers and contributed three assists. The Bobcats led the game for 17:16, but with such a close game the lead changed 13 times and the teams managed to tie it up nine times.

“North Dakota played really well tonight but our second half defense is what cost us tonight,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. “We lost some of our edge tonight and you can’t do that against a really good team on their court. We didn’t defend for 40 minutes and they really beat us on the boards.”

The Hawks proceded on their dominant path into Saturday’s game when the faced Idaho State.

The Hawks showed just how diverse their team can be, with a changeup of the leaders on the scoreboard. Saturday saw a spark from senior Corey Baldwin who posted a career-high 23 points complimented by his career-best seven 3-pointers.

The Bengals held the lead from the start with 26-11 on the board but the Hawks managed to rally back to within a single point at the half.

The Hawks bench contributed 28 points, with 12 points from sophomore Cortez Seales, including two free-throws which contributed to the Hawks 10 successful free throw attempts on the night.

Bernstine was back on the scoreboard, this time contributing a career high 14 points and also collecting another game high

nine rebounds.

The contest quickly swayed into UND’s favor after the half and they never looked back, the Hawks sealed the Bengals fate 89-64.

“They settled down as time went on,” Idaho State coach Bill Evans said on North Dakota. “They shot the heck out of the ball. Good teams find ways to make baskets and they made a bunch of them. North Dakota is one of the top four teams in the league.”

The Hawks now sit 6-2 in the Big Sky conference, and head back on the road to face Southern Utah Jan. 26, and Northern Arizona Jan. 28.

Allyson Bento is the sports editor for the Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]