GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Montana remained unbeaten in Big Sky play with a 72-67 victory over North Dakota, but the Fighting Hawks gave the Grizzlies one of their stiffest league tests of the season Saturday. The Griz improved to 11-0 in Big Sky play and had beaten their first 10 league foes by an average of 15.8 ppg.
Junior Jamar Akoh led all scorers with 23 points and finished with 11 rebounds to register his second double-double of the season against the Fighting Hawks (8-15, 3-8 BSC), who were swept by the Griz (18-5, 11-0 BSC) for the fourth time during their Big Sky border-rivalry.
Akoh's inside presence proved to be the difference as he went 10-for-12 from the field, while the rest of his teammates went just 17-for-44 (39 percent) on field-goal attempts.
UND's Conner Avants got going in the second half and finished with his second double-double of the season. He scored 13 of his 15 points after the break and added 11 rebounds.
Classmate Cortez Seales led UND with 19 points and he was the offensive ignitor in the first half for the home team, going 7-for-8 from the field to net 14 points.
"I was really proud of our fight," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "We were fighting for one another and fighting for our process. That was the first time I've really seen that consistently for 40 minutes."
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first half before the Grizzlies built an eight-point halftime advantage behind Akoh and Timmy Falls, who connected on a pair of 3-pointers off the bench.
The Griz led 19-18 when Geno Crandall went to the bench with his second foul at the 7:28 mark of the first half. With UND's All-Big Sky performer on the sidelines, Montana outscored the home team 20-13 down that closing stretch to build a 39-31 lead.
Crandall, who finished with 13 points to give UND a trio of double-figure scorers, played the entire second half and helped the Fighting Hawks claw back and regain a four-point advantage midway through the second half.
Sophomore Kienan Walter had five points during a 7-0 run that gave UND its largest lead of the game at 49-45 with just under 12 minutes to play, but Akoh would give the visitors the lead back with five-straight points.
Crandall briefly gave UND the lead back at 57-56 with 5:21 to play, but Ahmaad Rorie answered with a 3-pointer for the Griz, who scored six straight to take the lead for good.
Crandall connected on just the third 3-pointer of the game with 10 seconds to play, trimming the deficit to 70-67, but Rorie would make two free throws to seal the seventh-straight road win for Montana, which is a new program record.
Rorie finished with nine points, while Michael Oguine and Fabijan Krslovic each added 12 for the Grizzlies.
UND went just 3-for-17 from 3-point range after shooting better than 48 percent from beyond the arc in its three-game, home-winning streak that was snapped. Neither team shot well from the charity stripe as both squads finished under 70 percent.
"We had wide open shots and executed great, but just missed some that we've been making here lately," Jones added. "When you go 3-for-17 on 3's and 16-for-23 at the foul line, it's tough to beat a team like Montana."
The Fighting Hawks will be back on the road next week starting with a Thursday night matchup at Weber State. Tip-off against the Wildcats is set for 8 p.m. CT.
-- UND --