All five starters for North Dakota reached double figures as the Fighting Sioux defeated Waldorf 93-62 in the 2011-12 season opener at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
"We were able to play a lot of guys tonight and a lot of them really contributed to the win," head coach Brian Jones said. "Having that depth and knowing that those guys can make the shots is going to be the key to this team."
Sophomore guard Aaron Anderson (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) led the way with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 effort at the free throw line. He also added a team-high five assists and three steals, and picked up three rebounds (all defensive).
Classmate Troy Huff (G/F, Milwaukee, Wis.) finished with 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field, including a pair of high-flying dunks, and shot a perfect 2-for-2 at the line. He led the team with seven rebounds (six defensive) and tied Anderson with a team-high three steals.
Sophomore Jamal Webb (G, Buffalo, N.Y.), sophomore Brandon Brekke (F/C, East Grand Forks, Minn.) and senior Patrick Mitchell (G, Des Moines, Iowa) finished with 11 points apiece. Webb went 5-for-6 from the field, including a three-pointer, and Brekke banked five of his points at the charity stripe. Mitchell finished 4-for-9 from the field and led the team with a pair of three-pointers. He also got a hand on a trio of blocked shots.
UND finished 34-for-70 (48.6) from the field and shot 21-for-29 (72.4) at the free throw line. The Sioux won the rebound battle 46-31, converted Waldorf's 20 turnovers into 22 points, and scored 48 points from inside the paint.
"What impressed me most about tonight was the way we rebounded the ball and the way that we took care of it on offense," Jones said.
The only advantage UND didn't hold over the Warriors was shooting from beyond the arc. The Sioux shot 22.2 percent (4-for-18) while Waldorf hit 8-of-24 (33.3 percent).
Led by Brad Johnson (12 points) and Eddie Taylor-Boyce (10 points), the Warriors shot 35.2 percent (19-for-54) from the field and 69.6 percent (16-for-23) at the line.
Unable to make a shot from the field for the first nine minutes and 30 seconds of the game, Waldorf allowed the Fighting Sioux to build an easy 29-5 lead. While the Warriors couldn't find the basket, the same wasn't true for the Sioux.
"We started off with great energy," Jones said. "We really pressured the ball and were able to knock it loose a few times to get some easy transition baskets."
Huff opened the scoring with a layup just nine seconds in and then followed with a pair of transition baskets, including a nice dunk at 18:22. Exactly one minute later, Huff grabbed a midcourt steal and took the ball to the hole via another high-flying jam to make it 9-4 UND.
Following a free throw shot by Waldorf's Brian Tollettee at 14:49 (15-5 UND), the Warriors fell silent. Taking advantage of the missed shots, the Sioux set out on a 14-0 run to lead 29-5 with 10:35 remaining in the half. Waldorf's Ariel Hall-Jones broke the silence at 10:30 with a short jumper to set up a brief 9-4 run for the Warriors to cut the margin down to 19 points, but UND was unfazed.
Heading into the locker-room, North Dakota led Waldorf, 47-22.
Waldorf scored the first two baskets of the second half, and nearly cut the UND advantage down to less than 20 points, but the Sioux continued to attack. Inside the nine-minute mark, North Dakota set out on a 12-4 run that would provide the biggest lead of the game at 82-48.
This marks the second straight year that UND (1-0) has opened the season with a win over Waldorf.
The Fighting Sioux will return to action on Monday, Nov. 14 when they host an Idaho doubleheader. The women will hit the court at 6 p.m. against Idaho and the men will follow at 8 p.m. to take on Idaho State, who will be a future Big Sky foe.