Point guard Jamal Webb scored all 14 of his points in the second half to lead UND to a 65-61 victory over Southern Utah in Big Sky basketball action Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Webb got help from classmate Troy Huff, who added a game-high 24 points and had 11 second-half rebounds in the victory. UND (4-8, 1-1 BSC) evened its league record, while the Thunderbirds (1-9, 0-1 BSC) dropped their initial Big Sky contest and ninth straight game overall.
The double-double was the second of the season for Huff, who had 18 points in the first half to keep his club within striking distance in a game that SUU led for the most part, including a 37-36 advantage at the break.
But, it was Webb's aggressive play down the stretch that put his team in the lead for good after he made the go-ahead basket with 2:50 to play. The senior, who came off the bench for the second straight game after starting over 100 in his career, had six points in a closing 9-4 stretch that propelled his team to its first Division I victory since a late November win over North Dakota State.
Huff and Webb also combined for eight steals as well and the duo now ranks one-two in the UND record books in that department. Webb pushed his career-leading total to 206, while Huff moved into second place with a career-high tying five steals and now has 181 in three-plus seasons.
"Our defense in the second half is what turned the game around," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "Our guys were dialed in and showed what we are capable of if we focus on that end of the floor."
The T-Birds broke an early tie and built their largest lead of the game at 25-16 with a 9-0 run that Huff snapped with his second 3-pointer of the half.
Huff's trifecta sparked a 10-1 run that got the home team right back in the contest, tying things up at 26-26. Huff had eight of those points and finished the half with 18 at the break, but the T-Birds would hold a their one-point lead lead at the break thanks to 13 points by freshman Trey Kennedy.
Kennedy finished with 20 points to pace the T-Birds, who also got 10 points from Jon Marshall.
Webb sparked another key run midway through the second half, leading UND on an 8-0 run that erased a six-point deficit and put his team ahead 51-49 with just under eight minutes to play.
The T-Birds would not go away though, regaining the lead and holding it until Webb made his go-ahead lay up on a great feed from freshman Quinton Hooker. The defense came up with a stop and Hooker put UND ahead by three with a driving layup of his own.
Huff was limited to just seven points after the break, but all 11 of his season-high rebounds came in the second half. His biggest came on a missed free throw by Marshall that could have cut his team's deficit to just two points with eight ticks remaining.
Huff made one-of-two foul shots to ice the game as UND overcame a shaky effort from the charity stripe. The Green and White made just 19-of-31 attempts for the game, while the T-Birds were 13-for-17.
And, after shooting over 56 percent from the field as a team in the first half, SUU was held to just a 37.5 percent clip after the break.
UND has the rest of the weekend off from Big Sky play, but continues its three-game homestand next Thursday against Idaho State at 7 p.m.