BIG SKY CONFERENCE & ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASES
It was a night of firsts in the Big Sky Conference as Idaho State earned its first league win of the season, Montana State picked up its first road win this season (click here) and North Dakota handed Weber State its first conference loss. Montana also fell to Portland State after beating the Vikings 13 times in the last 15 meetings (Click here).
North Dakota 83, Weber State 77 (click on line score for box score) — North Dakota Sophomore Geno Crandall scored 31 points and senior Quinton Hooker added 22 as North Dakota dealt Weber State its first Big Sky Conference loss, 83-77 Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Crandall notched a career-high for the second straight game as UND (10-7, 5-2 BSC) also snapped the Wildcats’ seven-game winning streak and dealt Weber State its first loss in five Big Sky outings.
“I could not be more proud of this team,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “We competed for the entire 40 minutes tonight against a really good basketball team. I thought the difference was our defense in the second half. We really turned up the pressure down the stretch and hit some clutch shots to secure the win.”
Crandall led the way for UND on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor and also made a career-high 10 free throws on 12 attempts. He put the Fighting Hawks in the lead for good at 71-70 with a driving layup at 2:22 mark and added eight more points from the stripe in the closing two minutes to give UND its best league since joining the Big Sky in 2012.
The Fighting Hawks overcame a five-point halftime deficit to claim their third win of the season when trailing at the half (at Montana State, vs. Cal Bakersfield).
“North Dakota played really well tonight but our second half defense is what cost us,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “We lost some of our edge tonight and you can’t do that against a really good team on their court. We didn’t defend for 40 minutes and they really beat us on the boards.”
The Wildcats were led by All-Big Sky first-team guard Jeremy Senglin, who scored 24 points on six made 3-pointers. However, Weber State’s sharpshooter would miss his final four attempts from the field after a 9-for-15 start and tallied only three points in the final 16 minutes of the game. He scored eight quick points out of halftime to stretch the Wildcats’ lead to its highest peak at 55-46, but UND would erase that deficit with a 10-0 run.
UND’s comeback was sparked by its hot shooting from the floor and foul line in the second half. The Fighting Hawks went 18-for-23 from the field in the second half and matched that total from the free-throw line for the entire game in the victory.
Hooker had 15 of his points after halftime as he went 6-for-8 from the floor in the closing 20 minutes. His 3-pointer with 5:42 to play put UND ahead 67-60, but the Wildcats would not go away. Jerrick Harding, who had 14 points off the bench, drilled a trey just over 90 seconds later to give WSU the lead back at 68-67.
The teams would exchange the lead three times after that before Crandall and company would dash any hopes of Weber State remaining unbeaten in league play with an 8-0 run. Crandall made his final 10 free throws after missing his first two and is averaging 27.0 ppg over UND’s last three contests. He added game-highs in assists (4) and steals (3), while Hooker had six rebounds for the Fighting Hawks, who dominated the glass, holding a 37-22 edge in that category. Junior Drick Bernstine led all players with nine boards and chipped in with eight points.
UND returns to The Betty for a Saturday afternoon tilt against Idaho State.
Eastern Washington 84, Northern Arizona 62 –It was raining points again for the reigning Big Sky Conference co-Player of the Week.
Senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley had his second straight 30-point performance, pouring in 30 points to lead the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team past Northern Arizona 84-62 Thursday at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The victory, coupled with two other results in the league Thursday night, helped EWU creep within a half-game of the league lead.
Wiley made 14-of-16 shots from the field and both of his free throws, and also had eight rebounds, four blocked shots and a steal. He scored 36 in his last outing in a narrow three-point loss to Weber State last Saturday, and is now shooting at an 81 percent clip from the field and 93 percent from the line in his last three outings.
“Jake has made huge strides ever since that first road trip we took back in November,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford of the transfer by way of Lewis-Clark State and Montana. “He understands how we want to use him and the interchangeability of his position. He’s gotten very comfortable with what we do offensively. You take a player with really high character and tremendous work ethic, and now you give him understanding, and he’s put some dominating performances together. It’s really fun to watch him.”
Thanks to Wiley’s dominating performance, Eastern out-shot the Lumberjacks 54 percent to 40 percent for the game, and had a season-high 58 points in the paint. In holding NAU to 62 points, the Eagles have had their top four defensive performances of the season against NCAA Division I opposition all come during their six league games. The Lumberjacks had only 16 points in the paint, a season low for an EWU opponent this season.
Eastern, which hosts Southern Utah Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at Reese Court, won its fourth-straight game overall against NAU and its sixth-straight at Reese Court versus the Lumberjacks. True freshman Mason Peatling added 10 points and five rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting from the field for EWU.
“That was a good win and the way to defend the home court,” added Hayford, whose team out-scored NAU 41-31 in the second half. “We can still shoot the ball a whole lot better than we did tonight. We said at halftime it wasn’t going in, so let’s beat them where we can. When teams double on Jake, we know what we want to do with movement out of that. And he still gets 30 points, but we still moved the ball out of the double team really well.”
Idaho State 73, Northern Colorado 69 – ISU (3-14, 1-4 BSC) picked up its first league win of the season at Northern Colorado (7-11, 3-4 BSC). Five Bengals scored in double-digits led by senior Ethan Telfair with 14 points on 50 percent from the field. Freshman Brandon Boyd also shot 50 percent and finished the game with 13 points. Telfair also led the Bengals with a game-high seven assists.
Jordan Davis and Chaz Glotta paced the Bears with 19 points each. ISU out-scored UNC 41-26 in the second half.
Both teams traded buckets, until another Glotta three, his sixth of the night, gave UNC a one-point, 69-68 lead with 2:29 left. The 3-pointer would be the Bears last field goal of the game. After a UNC turnover, Telfair drove the lane and got the fade away lay-in to fall, tilting the scoreboard in favor of the Bengals, 70-69.
With 10 seconds remaining, sophomore guard, Jordan Davis pushed the floor to tie the game and drew contact, giving him a chance to even things up at the line, but his free throws fell short and ISU sealed up its first Big Sky win at the other end.
“It’s a tough one to swallow, but as I told the guys if anyone wants to walk out of the lockerroom feeling sorry for themselves, don’t plan on playing on Saturday,” UNC first-year head coach Jeff Linder said. “You could use youth as an excuse, but I don’t think that was an excuse tonight it was just our inability to make free throws when it mattered, but they’re (Idaho State) also the same team for the most part that came in here and won by forty and took it to them at Idaho State last year.”
Idaho 79, Southern Utah 67 – Idaho junior Victor Sanders scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Vandals (8-9, 3-3 BSC) to a home win over Southern Utah (4-15, 2-4 BSC). Sanders made 9-of-19 from the floor including 4-of-9 from behind the arc. Brayon Blake added 14 points on 5-of-7 from the floor an 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Randy Onuwasor led the Thunderbirds once again with 27 points and five rebounds. John Marshall added 12 points and five rebounds.