UND Sports Minnesota used its evolving trademark of pressure defense to disrupt North Dakota and post a 92-56 victory Monday at Williams Arena in the first meeting between the two programs since 1983.
Estan Tyler hit a corner 3-pointer on UND’s opening possession and the visitors would connect on their first four field goals to build a quick 10-5 lead, but the Gophers would settle in after that.
Minnesota (7-2) did so primarily due to the inside work of center Maurice Walker, who sparked an 11-0 run to give his squad control of the game. He finished with a career-high 22 points and point guard DeAndre Mathieu added 15 points for the home team.
Junior Terrel de Rouen led a balanced-scoring breakdown for UND with 10 points. Sophomore Quinton Hooker added seven points, five rebounds and a career-high seven assists in his return to the Twin Cities. Fellow Twin Cities’ native Estan Tyler contributed eight points and three assists for UND (3-5).
“Tonight, our best defense needed to be our offense and that was by valuing the basketball,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We turned it over 25 times and some of those were by our ball-handling guards.
“We played well in stretches and were flying around defensively, but they did what they do well tonight and that is beat you in transition.”
Minnesota would never relinquish its advantage as Walker had 13 of his team’s first 18 points and 15 in the first half. Mathieu added 11 points as the Gophers broke the game open after the midway point of the stanza.
Senior Jaron Nash made a jumper to cut UND’s deficit to 25-19 with 10:05 to play, but Minnesota outscored UND 18-6 over the final 10 minutes to build a 43-26 edge at halftime.
After that quick 4-for-4 start, UND managed just a 7-for-23 clip the rest of the first half, while Walker and Mathieu combined to go 12-for-15 and the Gophers shot 56.7 percent as a team (17-for-30).
The visitors started fast again after halftime, holding the Gophers scoreless for three minutes, but could manage only four points of their own during that stretch. The Gophers would once again collect themselves and not let UND get any closer the rest of the way.
The second half was littered with fouls as both teams combined for 30 in the closing 20 minutes with the Gophers picking up 18 of those. That did not deter their shooting though as Minnesota went 19-for-30 from the floor, while holding UND to just seven makes from the field (24 attempts).
UND, who did not go to the foul line in the first half, took 22 free throws in the closing 20 minutes, but could make only 14 of those attempts. Minnesota finished 13-for-17 from the charity stripe.
The Gophers also forced UND into a season-high 25 turnovers and scored 24 points off those miscues. Mathieu was also an unselfish distributor, adding a career-high 10 assists and Nate Mason added eight helpers for the Gophers, who assisted on 25 of their 36 field goals.
Nash finished with eight points and led UND in rebounding with seven. He has led the team in rebounding each game this season, helping the visitors hold a 33-29 edge in that department.
A trip to Fargo to play in-state rival North Dakota State is next up for UND. Those two will square off Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Scheels Arena.
-- UND --