ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

UND rolls to 95-65 Big Sky men's basketball win over Southern Utah

GRAND FORKS -- With six minutes to play, Quinton Hooker -- North Dakota's best player and arguably the best in the Big Sky Conference -- headed to the bench. His day was done.

University of North Dakota center Carson Shanks (5) shoots over Southern Utah forward Brayden Holker (35) in the second half of Saturday's game between the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and Southern Utah Thunderbirds , January 7, 2017 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
University of North Dakota center Carson Shanks (5) shoots over Southern Utah forward Brayden Holker (35) in the second half of Saturday's game between the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and Southern Utah Thunderbirds , January 7, 2017 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks. (Jesse Trelstad/Forum News Service)

GRAND FORKS - With six minutes to play, Quinton Hooker - North Dakota's best player and arguably the best in the Big Sky Conference - headed to the bench. His day was done.

That rarely happens in any league game. Yet, Hooker was done after scoring 23 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists in leading UND to dominating 95-65 Big Sky win over Southern Utah on Saturday before 1,749 fans at The Betty.

UND improved to 3-1 in the Big Sky and 8-6 overall while SUU, which had won two straight on the road, dropped to 2-1 and 4-12.

The Fighting Hawks turned in a performance that could be tough for any team in the Big Sky to handle.

"That's the best we've played in a while from start to finish," said UND coach Brian Jones. "And it's a good thing when you can give your quality guys rest and your scout guys some playing time because those guys earn it."

ADVERTISEMENT

UND's win was all about effort, especially after a sluggish five-point home win over Northern Arizona on Thursday night.

"It was our energy on defense from start to finish," said Hooker.

Defensively, UND was strong in the halfcourt. The Hawks held SUU to five first-half field goals and 15 for the game. The Thunderbirds shot only 26 percent and were outrebounded 46-38.

UND also had balance as six players reached double figures. Corey Baldwin connected for 14 points while Geno Crandall added 13 and a career-high nine assists. Josh Collins, who started for the injured Drick Bernstine, added 11 points while Conner Avants and true freshman Kienan Walter both finished with 10.

UND led from start to finish. The Hawks, however, navigated around some foul trouble inside in the first half. "We had a lot of strange lineups out there," said Jones. "It's a good lesson for players to always be ready and for us coaches to have trust in different lineups."

The big positive, however, may have been UND's start to the second half. UND led 43-25 at the break but five minutes into the final half the Hawks were up by 30 points as they scored in transition, in the halfcourt and from the 3-point line.

"Everyone was unselfish," said Collins. "We shared the ball and got open looks."

It was perhaps the team's strong start to the second half this season.
"We were just dialed in," said Collins. "Everyone was focused and we just brought it. We didn't let the (halftime) score dictate our pressure or defensive schemes."

ADVERTISEMENT

SUU, with a new coaching staff and an overhauled roster, was led by Randy Onwuasor's 19 points. The Texas Tech transfer came into the game leading the league in scoring.

SUU finished with only 15 field goals but got to the free-throw line 42 times, making 32. The Thunderbirds came into Saturday's game with 414 free-throw attempts this season, compared to 287 for UND.

UND hits the road for games next week at Montana State and Montana.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
What To Read Next
Dickinson’s gritty play earns kudos, but no cigar, as five-on-three opportunity garners no glory
Members Only
With the WDA tournament on the horizon, Dickinson thrashed St. Mary's in a 42-25 season ending dual. 
Members Only
A string of late goals for Dickinson boys hockey team would be the decider, but wouldn't cease the North Stars 'never say die' effort till the final buzzer.
Magicians secure victory with a three pin contest at an intense dual in Dickinson.