Troy Huff scored a career-high 34 points and North Dakota picked up its first Big Sky road sweep of the season, taking a 78-74 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday. Huff capped his career day and the win with a 3-point play on a breakaway dunk as the visitors officially clinched a berth in the Big Sky Tournament.CHENEY, Wash. – Junior
The road win was the third straight in Big Sky play for UND (14-15, 11-8 BSC), who never trailed despite a late rally by the Eagles (9-20, 6-12 BSC). Junior Aaron Anderson added 18 points for UND and 16 of those came in the second half as the visitors spoiled the last game for a quartet of senior Eagles at Reese Court.
“Troy obviously had a big day and got us off to a great start, but this was another game where we got contributions from everyone,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “And, I’m so proud of this bunch because they continue to find ways to win.
“Now, we have clinched a berth in the postseason tournament and will finish with a winning record in our first year of Big Sky play. That is a huge accomplishment.”
Huff and Anderson did a majority of the scoring for UND, but classmate Jamal Webb made a defining play late in the game with his team clinging to a 71-70 lead and under a minute to play. The Big Sky steals’ leader stripped EWU’s Colin Chiverton in the open court and made a driving layup to put UND up by three.
EWU would turn the ball over on the next possession and Webb would find Huff for his breakaway dunk. The set up was the 10th assist for Webb, who set a career-high in that category and added a season-high nine rebounds. He finished with six points.
Huff’s sizzling start produced the first 15 points of the game for UND, who jumped out to a 15-8 advantage. He had 20 points in the opening seven minutes as the Green and White quickly built a 24-10 advantage.
Huff knocked down four 3-pointers in the opening half and finished with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor, but the Eagles started chipping away late in the stanza to cut their deficit to 38-31 at halftime.
Anderson quickly pushed UND’s lead to nine early in the second half with five straight points, but the Eagles would not let the visitors put the game away. Anderson went 7-for-8 from the field in the second half, including making both of his 3-point attempts, as UND shot over 50 percent from the field.
UND’s lead, which was never relinquished, hovered around the five-point mark for most of the second half until the closing minutes when the Eagles made things real interesting.
With his team trailing 71-65, freshman Thomas Reuter converted a 3-point play and added a layup to cut the Eagles’ deficit down to just a point. After a turnover by Anderson, gave EWU its first chance to take the lead outright since the opening minutes of play, Webb came through the defensive play of the game for UND, who had 10 steals and eight blocks.
Freshman Tyler Harvey, who finished with 21 points off the EWU bench, put his team within a point again on the ensuing possession, but Anderson answered with an acrobatic shot in the lane to put UND back up by three.
EWU would miss a 3-point attempt to tie from the corner and Webb would coral his ninth rebound of the game. He quickly found Huff running open behind the Eagles’ defense and his two-handed dunk sealed the win.
EWU center Martin Seiferth finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds to go with seven blocked shots. Senior Mitch Wilmer added nine boards for UND, who held a 41-35 edge on the glass.
Chiverton finished with 14 points, but went just 3-for-10 from beyond the arc as the Eagles made only 8-of-24 attempts from deep as a team. UND finished 6-for-15 from 3-point range.
UND will close out the regular season next Saturday with a Big Sky home tilt against Southern Utah. Tipoff with the Thunderbirds is set for 2 p.m. CT. A victory by UND over the Thunderbirds would clinch the No. 3 seed at the postseason tournament.
Huff nets 34 as UND clinches Big Sky tourney berth