Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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GRAND FORKS—The University of North Dakota and Northern Arizona are two teams that have been in a growing process throughout the season. That's probably why mistakes were made by both teams at critical times during their Big Sky Conference game Saturday, Feb. 17, before 1,970 fans at The Betty.
GRAND FORKS—Before the game, there was little doubt as to the best team in the Big Sky Conference. Montana had put to rest any doubt with 10-straight wins—including six consecutive on the road. The Griz left The Betty on Saturday happy as they took a hard-earned 72-67 win over North Dakota before 2,089 fans. It was their 11th straight triumph and school-record seventh consecutive road victory.
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota begins the second half of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball season Thursday night, Feb. 1, against Montana State. The Fighting Hawks are 2-7 at the break and 7-14 overall. But the past three months can be forgiven, considering the Hawks—under coach Brian Jones—usually play their best basketball in February, which is labeled as the moving month in the collegiate ranks. Also, Jones can remind his players of his coaching days at Iowa, where he was part of a program that caught fire in Mach.
GRAND FORKS — It's never good to get beat at the buzzer, as the University of North Dakota did last week when Northern Colorado's Andre Spight hit a half-court shot at the horn to give the Bears a 94-91 overtime win over the Fighting Hawks. However, the sting of that loss was eased a bit by UND's overall play. For the fourth consecutive game, UND's overall performance was solid—giving hope that the Hawks have turned the corner as the Big Sky Conference season nears the halfway mark.
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State are nearing the heart of their respective conference seasons. The Fighting Hawks are six games into their Big Sky Conference season while NDSU is four games into Summit League play. A nonconference game for either team at this point of the season isn't ideal. But playing your rival makes the nonconference game a lot easier to take.
GRAND FORKS — Weber State, most likely, made its final trip to The Betty on Saturday, Jan. 13. And that's too bad. The University of North Dakota-Weber State games in the Big Sky Conference have been some of the more highly competitive and entertaining games the Hawks have had since their arrival in the league in 2012. But UND is leaving the Big Sky for the Summit League next season. So, UND may have had a little extra in its tank for Weber's final scheduled trip to Grand Forks as the Hawks—in another solid outing—downed Weber 89-79 before 2,188 fans.
GRAND FORKS — Nearly a month ago, University of North Dakota players left the McCarthey Athletic Center on the campus of Gonzaga University feeling pretty good. They just pushed No. 15 Gonzaga to the limit before falling in overtime. With a performance like that, UND felt confident heading into Big Sky Conference play. Somehow, UND players lost that feeling as the Hawks dropped their first four league games—all by double digits.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—The start to the Big Sky Conference men's basketball season isn't what the University of North Dakota anticipated. The Fighting Hawks are 0-4 in the league heading into tonight's home game against Idaho State at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, here. If there is a silver lining, it could be this: Thus far, UND's four Big Sky opponents are a combined 13-3 in league play, including 4-0 Montana—the team that appears to be the conference favorite after the first two weeks.
GRAND FORKS — The good news was that the University of North Dakota shot the basketball better, shooting 43 percent overall and 37 percent on 3-point attempts. That's still not great, but it was considerably better than the Fighting Hawks' showing two nights earlier against Idaho and for much of the season as well. However, there was bad news, too. UND committed 21 turnovers—a handful at crunch time—and that was the difference in Eastern Washington's 77-64 win over the Hawks on Sunday, Dec. 31, in a Big Sky Conference game before 1,548 fans at The Betty.
GRAND FORKS—Exactly one year ago, the University of North Dakota men's basketball team opened its Big Sky Conference men's basketball season at Portland State. The Fighting Hawks were pummeled in that Dec. 29, 2018, game, 99-62. On Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, the Hawks opened their 2017-18 Big Sky season and were roughed up by Idaho 74-57 before 1,597 fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Last year, UND learned from that opening-game blowout. The Hawks regrouped and went on to win the Big Sky title.