Drake uses second half to pull away from North Dakota

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 10:44 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (UND Athletics) - Drake used a second-half run to pull away from North Dakota for an 88-55 victory on Tuesday evening from the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

UND (1-8) battled an opponent that was ranked inside the Mid-Major Top-25 for the fifth straight game, with Drake (9-0) sitting at No. 7 in the most recent rankings released on Monday.

It was the bigs who led the way for North Dakota, with Gertautas Urbonavicius tallying a team-high 16 points on 3-of-5 from the field and knocking down nine of his 10 attempts from the charity stripe. It was the third straight game for the sophomore with double figures, adding four rebounds and two assists.

Filip Rebraca once again tallied at least 10 points for the 17th straight game, scoring 11 along with six rebounds and a season-high four rejections in a team-best 32 minutes of play.

Facing a team that applies pressure off a make in the full-court, UND committed a pair of turnovers in the opening four minutes that helped Drake jump out to an 11-6 advantage. After a slow start in last Friday’s contest at Southern Illinois, Rebraca started off with back-to-back buckets, including a jumper from the elbow, to give the junior four early points on a perfect 2-for-2 from the field.

The turnovers kept mounting up for UND as the middle of the half wore on, giving it away three more times that led to seven points by the Bulldogs and a 21-9 lead at the under-12 media timeout. The rebounding advantage favored the hosts in the early going as well, with Drake holding a 9-3 lead in that category to help the Bulldogs record six second-chance points.

North Dakota went to its reserves and Nero to help the Hawks get back some momentum over the next few minutes, with Urbonavicius knocking down a triple and Caleb Nero following with two makes at the line to trim the lead back down to seven, 21-14, at the midway point of the stanza. UND kept it going once the starters came back into the game, as Rebraca forced a turnover by drawing a charge that led to a Mitchell Sueker bucket and a Drake timeout.

UND clawed all the way back into the game with 12 straight points, capped off by a Brady Danielson triple, to knot the game at 21 with 8:20 to play in the first half. Drake answered back, however, with seven straight of its own to jump back in front, 28-21, at the penultimate stoppage of the period.

The Hawks kept themselves within striking distance for the remainder of the half, but a Drake bucket at the buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 36-28 advantage after 20 minutes of play.

Out of the half, UND got it going on offense with a couple of quick buckets. Tyree Ihenacho got into the act on offense with a sweet feed to Sueker for a slam to trim the lead down to six, but Drake answered back to push the advantage back to double digits, 44-34, at the under-16 timeout.

Turnovers started to mount again in the second half, with Drake taking advantage of three UND giveaways to go on a 10-2 run to take a 50-34 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining in the contest.

The lead kept growing for the Bulldogs as the half wore on, extending the advantage to over 20 points, thanks to striking for 20 of the 24 points to push the score to 60-38 with half of the second stanza to play.

UND could not claw into the deficit for the remainder of the game as Drake held on for the 88-55 victory.

North Dakota will enjoy a return to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center for the first time since Feb. 22, 2020 with a pair of conference games against newcomer Kansas City to open Summit League play on Jan. 2 and 3. Both games will be at 3:30 p.m.

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