GRAND FORKS, N.D. - In dramatic fashion, the University of North Dakota men's basketball team opened up its six-game homestand with a 90-74 win over Longwood. Freshman Josh Schuler (Urbana, Ohio) led all players with 21 points - just one shy of his career high and classmate Troy Huff (Milwaukee, Wis.) finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for his first career double-double.
"I thought this was the most consistent performance for us from both ends," said UND head coach Brian Jones. "We defended well and offensively our guys did an outstanding job of sticking with the game plan. Overall, it was our best performance of the season."
It was the largest offensive output of the season for UND, which improved to 6-9 with the win. The Lancers fell to 6-14.
"We have these six games at home and you can't take care of that unless you get the first one and build that momentum," said Jones. "That's was this team needs, a little momentum. We have two more games this week and we have to take it one game at a time. We need to build on how well we've been playing at home and remember that we haven't won two games in a row yet this year. That's a challenge for them."
Schuler shot 7-for-11 from the field and 7-for-7 at the free throw line while Huff went 6-for-11 from the field and 3-for-5 at the charity stripe. The two freshmen were joined in double figures by junior Patrick Mitchell (Des Moines, Iowa) with 13 points and redshirt freshman forward Brandon Brekke (East Grand Forks, N.D.) with 10 points. Brekke, making his first collegiate start, went 4-for-6 from the field and matched his season high in scoring.
The Fighting Sioux finished 30-for-55 (.545) from the field, 5-for-12 (.517) at three-point range and 25-for-28 (.893) at the free throw line. The Sioux notched 48 points in the paint and 16 points off of Lancer turnovers.
Jan van der Kooij led Longwood with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field and a 3-for-4 performance at the free throw line. Jeremiah Bowman added 15 and a team-high five rebounds.
The Lancers finished .446 (25-for-56) from the field, .400 (8-for-20) beyond the arc, and .800 (16-for-20) at the free throw line.
Coming off of a 9-9 tie four minutes into the game, Longwood went on an 8-0 run to take a 17-9 lead with14:08 on the clock. UND kept pace with the Lancers and slowly pulled the game into a 23-23 tie with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. The Sioux then took the lead on a free throw by Chris Clausen (Adelaide, Australia) at 8:11 and followed with an 8-0 run of their own to take a nine-point lead.
The Lancers cut the margin down to three, but a Sioux surge in the final two minutes, including a three-point buzzer beater by freshman Jamal Webb (Buffalo, N.Y.), took them into the locker-room holding a 44-33 lead over Longwood.
Back out of the break, UND continued with the momentum from the first half as Schuler nailed a three-pointer with just 18 ticks off of the clock. Longwood put up a fight, but Clausen kick started and capped an 11-2 Sioux run with a three-pointer to lift them to a 61-43 lead.
UND continued to ward off Longwood and with a free throw by Huff at 6:49, found itself with its largest lead of the game - a 22-point, 80-58 advantage.
Three consecutive three-pointers by the Lancers dropped the margin down to 12 inside the four-minute mark, but the late-game surge wasn't enough to overcome the 20-point deficit.
North Dakota will remain at home through the remainder of January as it tackles a six-game homestand. The Sioux will face Minot on Thursday, Jan. 13 before opening up Great West Conference play on Jan. 15 against South Dakota.
- Go Sioux -