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Big first half pushes Montana past UND - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Big first half pushes Montana past UND

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Montana raced out to a 19-point halftime lead and went on to post a 78-58 victory over North Dakota to secure a pair of Big Sky records on Saturday at Dahlberg Arena. The victory was the 25th straight in Big Sky regular season play and the 24th straight in league home games for the Grizzlies (18-4, 14-0 BSC).

The difference in this contest was the opening 20 minutes as Montana forced UND (10-13, 7-7 BSC) into 15 turnovers, turning those into 22 points. Those extra possessions staked the home team to a 40-21 lead at the break.

Senior Will Cherry had 13 points and Eric Hutchinson surpassed his career-high with nine points in the opening stanza to pace Montana.

Junior Troy Huff finished with a game-high 23 points and now has eight 20-plus scoring games in Big Sky play this season. Classmate Jamal Webb added 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

"We did not give ourselves much of a chance to win that game with the way we started," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "They had a lot on the line tonight and it showed by the way they came out and took command."

Huff had 10 first-half points for UND, but the visitors shot only 9-for-23 from the field and could not overcome the early miscues.

UND's play improved in the second half, but the Green and White could never chip too much away from its deficit after intermission. The Griz only extended their lead to as many as 24 after the break, but the visitors could never get closer than 17.

Huff went 11-for-20 from the field to finish with just under half of his team's field goals as UND finished with a 46 percent clip from the floor (23-for-50). Webb had all four of his assists in the second half as UND only had one in the opening 20 minutes.

Montana held a slight edge on the boards at 35-31 with Kareem Jamar leading all players with nine. He added 14 points and a game-high six assists.

Cherry finished with 16 points to pace the home team, while Hutchinson cracked double figures for the first time in his three-year career, finishing with 12 points.

UND returns home for two Big Sky games next week starting with a Valentine's Day tilt with Sacramento State on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. CT.

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