Montana senior Kareem Jamar scored a career-high 33 points and never let North Dakota get comfortable in Dahlberg Arena on Thursday night as the Grizzlies posted an 84-71 victory in Big Sky play.
Senior Troy Huff tried to keep UND in the contest, netting 24 points for the visitors and igniting a spark to start the second half after his team trailed by 10 at the break, but the Grizzlies kept coming up with answers, usually spear-headed by the reigning Big Sky Player of the Year.
"We had trouble with Jamar tonight and just did not have an answer for him," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "He got the foul line way too much, but that is what playmakers do.
"I thought we kept battling and came out strong in the second half, but could not get any key stops after pulling to within three."
Senior Aaron Anderson added 14 points, which was his highest output in league play this season and classmate Josh Schuler added 10 points to give UND three players in double figures.
The Grizzlies opened the game on a 14-4 run after making their first four 3-point shots of the game. Jamar capped the opening spurt with his first of three first-half trifectas as the Griz went 6-for-9 from deep in the opening 20 minutes.
UND would have an answer to that opening run, posting a 12-4 spurt to make it an 18-16 contest with just over eight minutes to play. Huff had seven points during that spurt, but he went to the bench on the next UM possession after picking up his second foul of the half.
The Griz would outscore UND 16-8 after Huff went to the sidelines and Jamar had 13 of those points as he went 4-for-5 from the field and 8-for-10 from the stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
The rest of the Grizzlies were just 5-for-13 from the field, but three of those were from beyond the arc. UND was 8-for-19 from the field, but hit 3-of-6 from deep, including a buzzer-beater by Anderson from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 34-24 at the break.
UND came out of the break on a 19-6 run and trimmed the deficit to 43-40 after a pair of free throws by Huff. Unfortunately, the Griz ran off the next 12 points to squelch any thoughts of a rally by the Green and White.
Junior Ryan Salmonson had six points in his best game of the season and helped UND cut the deficit down to nine in the closing minutes, but Keron DeShields and Jordan Gregory helped seal the win by executing at the foul line.
The Griz made 41 trips there in the contest, sinking 32 freebies, while UND managed to make just 20-of-30 from the charity stripe. Huff was perfect, 7-for-7, and Anderson went 5-for-7, but the remainder of the team made just 50 percent of its attempts.
UND was able to outshoot the Griz 53 percent to 52 percent from the field, but it was Jamar's hot shooting from all areas of the court that helped his team garner its third straight win over UND. He went 8-for-14 from the field and 3-for-4 from deep. He also went 14-for-16 from the foul line to finish with his best collegiate game.
UND resumes the Montana swing on Saturday at Montana State, who dealt Northern Colorado its first Big Sky loss of the season tonight. Tipoff vs. the Bobcats is at 8 p.m. CT.
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