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Junior Troy Huff had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
UND blasts Southern Utah in Big Sky Quarterfinal
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Updated: Monday 03/14/2013 21:49:08 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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MISSOULA, Mont. - An explosive start to the second half carried No. 3 seed North Dakota to a 69-52 victory over No. 6 seed Southern Utah on Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the Big Sky Championship at Dahlberg Arena.

Junior Troy Huff had a team-high 15 points and was one of five UND players to reach double figures in a contest that saw the higher seed shoot 65.2 percent from the floor in the second half, including a 7-for-11 mark from beyond the arc.

"I thought we were a little tight in the first half," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "We challenged our guys at halftime that we had 20 minutes left as a group and they responded by playing the way we have here over the last two weeks."

Huff's 5-0 spurt in the opening minute of the second half provided a much-needed spark for UND (16-15), who has now won six straight postseason conference tournament games dating back to the 2011 Great West Tournament.

Huff hit a 3-pointer on UND's first possession after halftime, then collected his fourth steal of the game and finished the play with a two-handed dunk to give UND its largest lead at 33-25.

Junior Aaron Anderson added 14 points for UND and senior Mitch Wilmer registered his second career double-double in what UND's second straight win over the Thunderbirds (11-20).

Wilmer's other double-double came on the road against Southern Utah in mid-December and he was a monster on the glass again tonight, pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. UND held a 42-35 advantage in that category and, defensively, held SUU to just a 29 percent shooting clip from the field.

"Mitch played like a senior who knows his career is winding down," Jones added. "He was tremendous. Defensively, he did a great job on the glass and provided a lot of energy plays for us by keeping the ball alive on the offensive end."

Much like Saturday's contest in Grand Forks, both teams struggled from the floor early on and neither team could build a comfortable lead in an opening 20 minutes that featured several mini-runs.

SUU Jackson Stevenett had eight of his team's first 10 points as the T-Birds jumped out to a 11-5 advantage early in the contest.  After only scoring seven in the regular season finale vs. UND this past Saturday, the second team All-Big Sky performer had 10 by halftime, but would only finish with 15.

Anderson led UND with seven points in the first half and after a slow start, the Green and White were able to build a three-point advantage by halftime.

Junior Jamal Webb, who had one steal to tie UND's all-time record in that category with 178, sparked a 9-0 run by the Green and White that gave them a 14-11 lead after falling behind by six early. UND would never trail again, but were tied one last time at 22-22 before moving ahead for good with a 6-3 run in the final two minutes.

Sophomore Lenny Antwi, who had 10 points off the bench along with junior Josh Schuler, hit a 3-pointer to cap a 23-7 run by UND over the first 10 minutes of the second half. SUU never serious threatened after that as the Green and White would lead by as many as 25.

Antwi went 4-for-5 from the field, while Schuler went 3-for-6, including a 3-for-3 effort from deep after halftime.

UND will play No. 2 seed Weber State (25-6), who beat No. 7 seed Northern Arizona 84-58 in the first quarterfinal. Tipoff against the Wildcats will be at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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