Fighting Hawks use 3-point barrage to down the Bison

FARGO, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- North Dakota used a 3-point barrage in the opening half and held off a late run by North Dakota State to pick up an 86-77 victory over the Bison Tuesday at Scheels Center.

Sophomore Marlon Stewart led five Fighting Hawks (7-11) in double figures with 20 points as the road team picked up the fifth-straight win in the series. This was the final non-conference matchup between the two in-state rivals as both will be members of the Summit League next season. NDSU (10-9) won the contest in Grand Forks just over a month ago by the same margin (88-79).

"These last three games, I think you have seen the team we all knew we could be," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "It just took a little longer than we wanted to get there, but we'll take it and continue to grow and get better."

Stewart had 11 of his points in the opening half when UND came out and buried 10-of-17 from beyond the arc to build a 46-37 lead at the break. Four of those trifectas came in three-minute spurt that saw the visitors stretch a 32-30 lead into a 46-34 advantage before the Bison got three free throws in the closing second.

Dale Jones, who added 17 points, had 14 of those in the first half when he hit four of his five treys during the game. He finished 5-for-10 from the deep and is 11-for-20 from beyond the arc during UND's three-game winning streak.

In the second half, Conner Avants, who also had 17 points for UND, went to work down low as the Fighting Hawks only connected twice from deep. He finished 7-for-10 from the floor and had 13 points after halftime. The 12 makes from beyond the arc equaled a season-high for UND.

The Bison made their run to close withing 68-64, but junior Geno Crandall would spark a 9-0 run by UND that pushed its advantage back to 13 with just over five minutes to play. The preseason All-Big Sky selection scored seven straight at one point and finished with 12 points.

NDSU would get as six in the closing two minutes, but reserves Billy Brown and Tray Buchanan would close out the game with a 5-for-6 effort from the stripe. Buchanan finished with 10 points off the bench to round out UND's quintet of double-figure scorers.

The Bison controlled the glass, holding a 39-21 rebounding edge, but UND made up for the disparity by forcing NDSU into 17 turnovers, which the Fighting Hawks turned into 36 points. UND also committed a season-low five turnovers as they won in Fargo for the second-consecutive season.

UND will return to Big Sky play on Saturday and continue a four-game road swing at Northern Colorado. Tip-off against the Bears is slated for 8 p.m. CT.