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Junior Troy Huff dunks home two of his season-high 24 points, but UND fell to Montana by 15 on Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Griz use second-half surge to oust UND
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Updated: Thursday 01/15/2013 11:00:23 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Montana forward Mathias Ward scored a season-high 27 points and the visiting Grizzlies used a second-half surge to defeat North Dakota 77-62 in the first meeting between the two teams as Big Sky foes Thursday. The visitors also avenged an 88-81 overtime loss to UND a season ago in a non-conference tilt.

UND's Troy Huff scored a season-high 24 points off the bench for the home team, but his efforts were trumped by Ward and company as the Griz (9-4, 5-0 BSC) remained unbeaten in league play. The loss dropped UND (4-10) to 1-4 in league play.

"We played 20 solid minutes of basketball, but we did not come out with the same sense of urgency in the second half that we showed in the first," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "And, you are not going to win many games, at home or away, when you allow the other team to shoot 50 percent from the floor."

Ward and Huff each scored 15 points for their respective teams in the opening half as the teams went back-and-forth before the Griz managed to take a 38-36 lead at halftime thanks to a pair of free throws by Will Cherry in the closing minute.

But, it was Cherry's second 3-pointer of the half that might have been the biggest make of the opening 20 minutes for the visitors. It came after Huff made a 3-point play the old-fashioned way to put his squad in the lead at 32-28 with just under three minutes to play.

Cherry had 12 of his 14 points in the opening stanza that saw both teams shoot at least 50 percent from the floor. 

The story would change quickly in the second half as the Grizzlies remained hot from the floor, while UND cooled off considerably. Junior Jamal Webb, who finished with 11 points and seven assists, tied the game at 38-38 with a layup, but Ward had eight points during a 12-0 run over the next three minutes that saw Montana take control of the game.

UND would not get any closer than eight the rest of the way as Webb's opening layup was one of just two field goals for the home team in the opening 14 minutes of the second half.

Huff's season-high effort came on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and a 6-for-7 effort at the foul line. Junior Aaron Anderson, who came in leading the Big Sky in scoring in league games, was held to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting.

Anderson's 3-pointer with 7:15 to play in the first half gave UND its first lead of the game at 22-20.

Cherry, who was in charge of defending Anderson for most of the game, equaled Webb's assist total of seven as the Griz had 21 on 30 field goals. The reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year added three steals.

Webb and Huff each had four steals for UND, but the Green and White could not overcome the sluggish shooting effort in the second half.

The Griz finished 30-for-59 (50.8 percent) for the game, while the home team shot 41.2 percent for the game, but that came after a 56.0 percent clip (14-for-25) in the first half. Huff went 2-for-5 from beyond arc, but the rest of the team went just 2-for-13.

Kevin Henderson (12) and Kareem Jamar (11) rounded out the Griz quartet of double-figure scorers.

UND will return to action on Saturday with a home tilt against Montana State. It is the first trip for the Bob cats to Grand Forks since 1955. Tipoff is set for 2:05 p.m.

-- UND --

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