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Junior Troy Huff scored 24 points and made nine field goals, but UND fell to Sac State in Big Sky play on Thursday.
Fast start not enough for UND in loss at Sac State
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Updated: Tuesday 01/24/2013 23:46:34 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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SACRAMENTO – Sacramento State overcame a sluggish start to knock off North Dakota 67-58 in Big Sky play on Thursday at The Nest. Junior Troy Huff scored a game-high 24 points for UND, but a long field-goal drought that spanned the final seven minutes of the first half and opening eight of the second half by the visitors proved costly in this one.

The Hornets (9-8, 4-5 BSC) moved into a tie for fourth place with UND (7-11, 4-5 BSC) in the Big Sky standings with the win, while the Green and White saw their season best three-game win streak come to a close.

Junior Aaron Anderson added 14 points for the visitors despite an off-shooting night for one of the top scorers in the league. UND was held to a 35.7 percent field goal clip after opening the game making 9-of-18 from the field in the opening 10 minutes.

“We did not attack their zone like we have been doing and became jump-shot happy,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “That started in the first half and carried over into the second half.  We never got in attack mode like we had preached in preparation and that cost us.

“We wanted to get the sweep this weekend, but now we are going to have to regroup and find a way to get a split with a win at Northern Arizona on Saturday.”

Huff had nine of UND’s 19 field goals as the rest of the team went just for 10-for-33 from the field. His layup with just over seven minutes to go in the first half gave UND a 26-17 lead, but by the time Josh Schuler made the next one eight minutes into the second half, the game had turned in favor of Sac State.

Fortunately, the Hornets did not take complete advantage of the cold shooting by UND because their lead was just 36-30 before Schuler’s runner in the paint cut his team’s deficit to just four.

Mikh McKinney sparked his club, however, after drilling a 3-pointer and converting it into a 4-point play moments later. That gave the Hornets their first double-digit lead of the game and it would remain that way until the final five minutes when Huff started to get some shots to fall.

The Milwaukee native sparked a 9-2 run with a pair of 3-pointers that pulled UND to within six at 53-47, but Joe Eberhard, who led Sac State with 15 points, made a huge 3-pointer of his own to end any thoughts of a UND comeback.

It was a different story in the first half as a fast start by UND provided some confidence and a 12-point lead in what was the first meeting between the two teams as conference foes. The squads had split a home-and-home series the previous two seasons.

Eberhard gave the home team its first lead of the game at 7-6 on a 3-point play, but UND answered with an 11-0 run to build a double-digit advantage.

The visitors’ lead would grow to as many as 12 at 24-12 with 9:01 left on the clock thanks to a quartet of 3-pointers, including two by Anderson.

Unfortunately, the game-changing field goal drought would ensue and Sacramento State would take advantage, pulling even at 30-30 after outscoring UND 18-6 over those final nine minutes of the half.

Huff had 12 first-half points to lead all scorers and Anderson added 10 as UND went 9-for-23 from the field. Sacramento State started slow, but nine different Hornets scored in the first half to aid the comeback.

John Dickson hit a pull-up jumper from 17 feet at the horn to tie the game for the home team. He finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds to post a double-double. Dickson’s efforts on the glass helped his squad hold a 39-22 advantage in rebounds.

UND stays on the road to wrap up Big Sky play this week at Northern Arizona. Tipoff against the Lumberjacks is set for 3:05 p.m. CT.

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