GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senior Troy Huff had 34 points and classmate Aaron Anderson added 20 to lead North Dakota to a 94-90 victory over Northern Colorado in Big Sky play on Tuesday. The victory extends UND’s winning streak to four games and secures a berth in next week’s league tournament.
It was the final home game for seven seniors, who wrapped up their run in Grand Forks with a 44-12 record at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND (15-14) now sits alone in second place in the league standings at 12-7 and will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in Ogden next week.
The Bears (16-12, 10-9 BSC) lost their fourth straight and will be part of a wild weekend finish in the race for the final five spots available for the Big Sky Tournament.
“I was proud of the way we played tonight,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “It was a little rough at the beginning of both halves, but our guys buckled down both times and did nice a job of holding them off to get this victory.”
Huff had 21 of his points in a first half that saw UND jump out to a 13-point advantage thanks to a 79 percent shooting clip from the floor. Huff’s 34 points were the most he has ever scored in a home game.
“Troy was patient in the first half and really did a good job of letting the game come to him,” Jones added. “He also made a ton of energy plays and when Troy does that we go to a different level as a team.”
UNC opened the game on a 9-2 run, but UND responded with a quick 9-0 spurt to grab its first lead on a 3-pointer by Jaron Nash at the 16-minute mark. Nash also reached double figures for the home team with 14 points on a 6-for-7 effort from the floor.
UND opened 9-for-10, while UNC opened 8-for-10 and the hot shooting would continue throughout the first half for the home team. UND put together its best 20 minutes of the season on the offensive end thanks to a 19-for-24 effort from the floor and 14-for-18 clip at the free throw line.
Huff went an impressive 7-for-11 from the floor to get his 21 points and his teammates were even better, going 12-for-13. Anderson scored half of his 14 points from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes, knocking down 7-for-8 as UND built a 56-43 lead at the break.
Senior Jamal Webb, who had six first-half assists, found Huff on an alley-oop to start the second half, but the Bears would not go away as UND cooled off from the floor.
Tate Unruh had 10 of his 13 points in the second half as UNC methodically trimmed its deficit all the way down to four after he made a layup with just over four minutes to play. Junior Tevin Svihovec then had a chance to cut that deficit in half at the free throw line, but the 79 percent shooter missed both.
Huff would then make a layup to push the lead back to six and UND would make 10-of-12 from the stripe in the final 61 seconds to seal the victory. The home team finished 32-for-42 from the stripe and 29-for-50 from the field, while the Bears shot 60.4 percent for the game, including a 61 percent clip in the second half.
Derrick Barden led the Bears with 17 points, but UND held one of the conference’s top players to just two second-half points. Svihovec added 16 for UNC and Tim Huskisson had 10 off the bench for the visitors.
All five UND starters had at least four rebounds as the Green and White dominated the glass with a 33-16 advantage.
UND will wrap up the regular season on Thursday at Southern Utah with tipoff set for 8:30 p.m. CT from Cedar City.
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