UND escapes with OT win against Northern Arizona

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- A barrage of 3-pointers and crisp ball movement helped North Dakota escape with an 86-81 victory over Northern Arizona in Big Sky play Saturday.

Junior Geno Crandall scored a team-high 28 points and hit four of UND's season-high 15 triples as the Fighting Hawks (10-17, 5-10 BSC) won back-to-back contests for just the second time this season.

"We did a great job defensively during the first half, but we didn't carry over our defensive energy and focus into the second half," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "We didn't get any stops to start the second half and that kind of lingered throughout.

"But, I will give our guys a lot of credit. We had not won an overtime-game yet and we did that and won two close ball games this week, so I'm seeing growth there."

Crandall had to help compensate for a career-high 31 points from NAU's Torry Johnson as the Lumberjack guard kept his team in the contest with clutch-shot making down the stretch.

After Crandall had given UND a 69-64 lead with his fourth 3-pointer of the game at the 47-second mark, Johnson went down and matched that with his fifth triple of the contest.

On UND's ensuing possession, Chris Bowling intercepted a pass from Billy Brown that he threw down for a game-tying dunk with 25 seconds left. Bowling finished with 17 points and he also drilled five 3-pointers for the Lumberjacks (4-23, 1-13 BSC), who had connected on just 4-of-43 in their previous three contests.

Crandall had a look at the game-winning basket for the second-straight game, but this time his floater fell off and an offensive putback by Kienan Walter was blocked away to force the extra session. He hit UND's last two field goals in the team's 61-57 win over Southern Utah on Thursday.

Johnson would give NAU a 76-74 advantage with a layup off an inbounds play from underneath the Lumberjacks' hoop with 2:59 to play, but junior Conner Avants made sure that would be the visitors' final lead of the contest.

After going scoreless in regulation, Avants scored UND's next eight points, which included a pair of old-fashioned 3-point plays that stretched the home team's lead to 82-77.

Crandall would knock down a pair of free throws after NAU missed back-to-back looks from 3-point land and that would seal the win for UND.

The Fighting Hawks finished 15-for-32 from beyond the arc with Dale Jones joining Crandall with a team-high four makes. He finished with 16 points, while sophomore Marlon Stewart added 13 points and equaled his career-high with nine assists.

Cortez Seales also had a career-high in assists during a game that saw the Fighting Hawks tally one on their first 21 field goals.

Brown came off the bench to score a season-high 10 points and he opened overtime with UND's 15th trey of the contest.

Stewart assisted on half of UND's 12 first-half field goals as the home team built a 32-26 lead at the break.

Both teams finished shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and NAU's 53-percent effort was its best in 14 Big Sky games.

UND concludes its home schedule next Saturday against Northern Colorado. Senior Dale Jones will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony prior to tip-off at 4 p.m. CT.