Crandall’s late heroics lift UND to win over T-Birds

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- Junior Geno Crandall's elbow-jumper with 17 seconds to play lifted North Dakota to a 61-57 victory over Southern Utah Thursday in Big Sky play.

Crandall went 7-for-12 from the field and made the Fighting Hawks (9-17; 4-10 BSC) only two baskets in the closing eight minutes, but they were enough to snap a three-game skid for the home team.

The preseason All-Big Sky selection finished with a game-high 17 points and sophomore Kienan Walter provided a boost of the bench by adding 15 in what was UND's fifth-straight win in the series with the T-Birds (10-14; 4-9 BSC).

Walter went 5-for-9 from the field and connected on a trio of 3-pointers, while Crandall was 7-for-12. The rest of the Fighting Hawks went just 8-for-29 in a game that saw UND shoot 40 percent from the field and hold SUU to a 41.1 percent clip.

"I thought we showed a lot of poise and discipline down the stretch and I liked the pace we came out with in the second half after being down by six," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "But, I thought our bench was the difference in the game. I challenged them before the game and thought they could be the deciding factor in a win or a loss and they were."

Walter's benchmate, sophomore Billy Brown, also connected on a key 3-pointer in the second half and also added a career-high six rebounds in 23 minutes. Brown and Walter were 4-for-7 from beyond the arc, while the UND starters were just 1-for-7 from distance in the contest.

Brown also corralled a career-high six rebounds to help UND's effort on the glass.

Jadon Cohee led SUU with 14 points and went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, while the rest of his teammates made just 2-of-13 attempts.

Jamal Aytes and Dwayne Morgan each added 11 for the T-Birds, who entered the game winning back-to-back league games for the first time this season.

After Crandall's final basket, SUU had a chance, but Cohee's off-balance shot in the paint was blocked by Cortez Seales and Dale Jones corralled the loose ball for a pivotal rebound.

After Marlon Stewart missed on a chance to extend the one-point advantage by coming short on the front end of a one-and-one with six seconds to play, Aytes drew a foul and also missed out on a chance to tie or give SUU the lead with 2.4 seconds to play when he missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Stewart would make amends by sinking two free throws on his next trip to make it a three-point contest and SUU would throw the ball away in the closing seconds.

UND overcame a 16-for-26 effort from the charity stripe and were aided by a 5-for-11 tally for the visitors.

Southern Utah opened the game on a 9-2 run before Crandall scored four straight to get the home team back in the game, but he picked up his second foul just five minutes into the contest and would sit for a good chunk of the rest of the half.

Three of Cohee's triples came in the first half as he helped the T-Birds build a 33-27 cushion after UND shot just 28.6 percent from the field.

The Fighting Hawks were much better in the second half, going 12-for-22 on field goals, while holding SUU to a 34.6 percent clip after the break.

UND will play in its "Military Appreciation" game on Saturday against Northern Arizona. Tip-off against the Lumberbacks is set for 4 p.m. and all active and retired military personnel can receive free admission (plus up to four dependents) by showing their valid military ID at the box office.