GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Junior Conner Avants scored a career-high 24 points and classmate Geno Crandall added 20 to lead North Dakota to an 82-75 victory over Presentation College Tuesday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
The Saints proved to be a much tougher foe than their three previous trips to Grand Forks when the Fighting Hawks (4-3) won by an average margin of 43.0 ppg.
The primary reason for that was the play of juniors Julius Jackson and Deiontay Walters, who scored 32 and 22 points, respectively for the visitors.
Walters pulled the Saints with three at 19-16 on a baseline jumper at the midway point of the first half, but UND would respond with a 13-0 run that Dale Jones capped with a 3-pointer.
That spurt would prove to be pivotal as PC never let UND run away and hide like in year's past against the NAIA squad.
Avants, who had 12 first-half points, and Crandall, who had 14, helped provide the home team with a 45-31 lead at the break.
Those two combined to go 11-for-17 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while UND shot 56.3 percent as a team. Jackson went 8-for-12 from the field and had 19 at the break for PC.
Walters added 10 first-half points, but the rest of the team managed just two in the opening stanza.
UND controlled much of the second half, growing its lead to as many as 22 points before the Saints made a late run to close within single digits in the final minute of the play.
Presentation ended up with a 38-36 edge on the glass as Quadre Lollis added a game-high 11 boards for the visitors. Jackson added nine, while Jones finished with a team-best 10 for the Fighting Hawks. It was his second double-digit rebounding game of UND's 2-1 record throughout its three-game homestand.
Sophomore Marlon Stewart distributed a career-high nine of UND's season-high 24 assists in the contest, while Crandall added five to go with five rebounds. It was the fourth time he finished with 20 or more points in a game this season.
Avants got to his career-high total on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor.
UND returns to the road next Tuesday to take on Creighton. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised on FS2.
-- UND --