Bozeman, Mont. – North Dakota won its first road game of the season in dramatic fashion, holding off a hot Montana State team 72-69 at Worthington Arena on Saturday. It was the second straight win for the Green and White on the Bobcats’ home court.
Senior Aaron Anderson scored a team-high 18 points and hit two clutch free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win for UND (6-10), who evened its Big Sky record at 3-3. The Bobcats (9-8, 4-2 BSC) lost for just the second time in league play and at Worthington Arena this season.
“We took a big step forward tonight,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “We showed what we could do when we play together as a team and share the ball. Montana State is a tough team and this was a gutty win by us.”
Senior Troy Huff added 13 points and nine rebounds in the contest that was as tight as could be in the first half. His nine boards helped UND hold a 33-26 edge on the glass, which was its first advantage in that category over a Division I opponent this season.
A 5-0 run by the visitors to end the half gave UND a 42-38 advantage, but those opening 20 minutes featured 17 lead changes and 14 ties and the four-point spread by UND was the largest lead by either team.
UND pushed its lead to as many as 11 at 54-43 with a strong start to the second half, but the Bobcats got right back in the game with an 8-0 run. UND would respond with a quick 5-0 run, however, as Jaron Nash got a dunk and Cole Stefan hit a 3-pointer from the corner. Nash finished with seven points and six rebounds, while Stefan added six points for a UND bench that outscored Montana State’s 29-12.
Despite that response by UND, the home team would not go away, primarily due to the play of post players Flavien Davis and Paul Egwuonwu. Davis had a game-high 25 points, but missed a chance to tie the game at 70 with under a minute to play when his chance at an and-one rimmed off from the free throw line. Egwuonwu added 14 points for the Bobcats.
Anderson came up with a big offensive rebound on the ensuing possession and would be fouled twice to set up his clutch free throws. He hit the front end and swished the back end of a one-and-one and Stephan Holm’s look from beyond the arc at the buzzer was short. Stefan got that rebound and was tied up, but UND kept possession and ran out the remaining .4 seconds on the clock.
Senior Jamal Webb had seven points, including a big basket down the stretch in a game that saw him go over 1,000 points for his career. He did that in the first half with a floater in the lane. He also had two assists to take over sole possession of second place on UND’s all-time charts in that category.
Classmate Alonzo Traylor led all bench scorers in the game with nine points. He had a key basket with just over a minute to play that extended UND's lead back to three at 70-67.
Both teams shot well from the floor as UND shot 49 percent, while the Bobcats made 51 percent of their attempts. Both teams made four 3-pointers in the first half, but MSU could not connect from distance in the second half, while Anderson made two big 3-pointers to finish with four for the game.
UND returns home next week for a pair of Big Sky games, starting Thursday with a tilt against Sacramento State at 7 p.m.
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