POCATELLO, Idaho – Senior Corey Baldwin and sophomore Geno Crandall led five Fighting Hawks in double figures with 18 points apiece as North Dakota picked up a 77-61 road victory Thursday in Big Sky men’s basketball action.
Baldwin drilled five 3-pointers and Crandall added four as UND (16-8, 11-3 BSC) matched its season-high with 13 trifectas in the contest. Junior Drick Bernstine added a season-high 16 points on 8-of-11 from the floor, while Cortez Seales had 10 points and career-highs in rebounds (nine) and assists (six) off the bench.
“Obviously, hitting 13 three’s against that zone proved to be big for us,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “I thought our guards really did a good job of rebounding too and after being careless early, we really settled in and took care of the ball. Those were two keys to coming away with a nice road win.”
Senior Quinton Hooker rounded out UND’s five double-figure scorers with 13 points and helped force the Bengals (5-20; 3-10 BSC) into 18 turnovers that the Fighting Hawks turned into 24 points. It was the 10th straight win over Idaho State for UND, who has now won four in a row overall and stays within a half game of league-leader Weber State.
Baldwin had the Fighting Hawks up by four early in the game after connecting on a trio of 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes of the contest, but the Bengals would not go down easy. ISU made it to the free throw line 12 times before UND had any attempts and two makes from Novak Topalovic gave the Bengals an 18-16 lead midway through the half.
The Fighting Hawks ended a five-minute field goal drought when Hooker made a layup after a steal by Seales. That basket tied things at 18-18 with 7:00 to play.
UND’s run would eventually grow to 13-4 as the Fighting Hawks regained control of the game. Baldwin, who had 14 first-half points, gave UND its first double-digit lead at 35-24 on a steal and layup with two minutes to play in the half.
Still facing an 11-point deficit with under a minute to play, Idaho State got seven points on one possession after a 3-point play and four technical free throws all by Brandon Boyd. He finished with 19 points to lead ISU, who also got 12 points from Topalovic and 11 from Ethan Telfair.
That sequence quickly trimmed the deficit to 37-33, but Crandall would go down and drill a corner 3-pointer on UND’s next possession and put the lead at 40-33, which is where the score would stand going into halftime.
Crandall’s trey was the ninth of the half for the visitors, who made only 6-of-17 attempts inside the arc in the opening 20 minutes. The Bengals stayed within striking distance thanks to a 16-for-19 effort from the foul stripe, while UND only made two trips in the first half and missed one of those.
Crandall sparked a key surge after a slow start to the second half and the Fighting Hawks put the game away with a 15-2 run. Crandall had eight points during the spurt and the Bengals never clawed back within single digits the rest of the way.
Crandall finished 6-for-12 from the field and also had a career-high nine rebounds as UND held a 35-31 edge on the glass.
The Fighting Hawks travel south to Ogden, Utah for its next matchup Saturday against league-leading Weber State. Tip-off against the Wildcats is set for 8:05 p.m. CT.
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