POCATELLO, Idaho -- Idaho State snapped an 11-game losing streak to North Dakota by defeating the Fighting Hawks 82-67 Saturday in Big Sky play. UND junior Geno Crandall led all scorers with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor, but the Bengals outscored the visitors 45-30 in the second half to pick up their first win in the series since 2011.
Sophomore Brandon Boyd finished a point shy of his career-best with 27 in the victory for the Bengals (11-12, 6-6 BSC). He shot 11-for-17 from the floor and ISU shot 65 percent from the floor in its big second-half surge.
Junior Conner Avants added 12 points and Dale Jones chipped in with 11 to round out a trio of double-figure scorers for the Fighting Hawks (8-17, 3-10 BSC), who remained winless on the road in Big Sky play (0-7).
UND got down early, digging a 20-7 deficit thanks to eight early turnovers and an 8-for-12 start from the field by the home team.
“Tonight was all about turnovers,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “We haven’t been doing that lately and those early ones in the second half proved costly.”
The Fighting Hawks would settle down after that and outscore the Bengals 30-17 the rest of the half. That stretch included a 16-5 run late in the stanza that Crandall sparked as he contributed 11 of those points and finished with 18 first-half points.
Marlon Stewart gave the visitors their first lead of the half on a 3-pointer in the closing minute, but Balint Mocsan would square things at 37-37 at halftime by buring his own trey just before the buzzer.
Idaho State opened the second half on an 8-0 run to take the momentum back and never relented. The Bengals would push their lead to 12 midway through the half thanks to a 12-of-16 start from the floor.
ISU's lead would grow to as many as 16 on a driving layup by Brandon Boyd. Crandall scored his last bucket to trim the deficit to 75-65 before he fouled at with three minutes to play.
That would be as close as the visitors would get down the stretch as the Bengals picked up their first Big Sky win over UND in 11 tries.
Novak Topalovic and Geno Luzcando added 14 points a piece for the Bengals, who forced UND into 20 turnovers. Luzcando, who came in leading the league in steals, had five in the contest as the Bengals scored 21 points off of UND's miscues.
Topalovic finished with a double-double after adding 13 rebounds and helping ISU hold a 34-26 edge on the glass. Crandall and Avants combined to go 16-for-20 from the floor, while the rest of the Fighting Hawks managed to 9-for-33 in the contest as the visitors finished with a 47.2 percent clip.
UND will return to Grand Forks to begin its longest homestand of the season next week with a Thursday night tilt against Northern Arizona. Tip-off against the Lumberjacks is set for 7 p.m. CT and will be the first of three-straight at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center for the Fighting Hawks.
-- UND --