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Bentiu Panoam drops 25 in 85-76 win over South Dakota

UND team huddle.
UND team huddle.(KSFY)
Published: Feb. 13, 2021 at 10:52 PM CST
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) - There might be a petition going around Grand Forks to make every weekend in honor of that year’s senior class, as UND’s lone senior Bentiu Panoam scored a career-high 25 points to help lead the Fighting Hawks past league-leading South Dakota, 85-76, on Saturday afternoon from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

This marks the second straight season that UND (7-15, 6-7 Summit League) has picked off the team on top of the Summit League standings on the final home weekend of the year, defeating North Dakota State, 71-68, last year.

Panoam was lethal from all areas of the court in the win, knocking down 9-of-15 from the field and hitting a team-best 4-of-7 from distance to tally his career high. The senior also grabbed three rebounds and finished a +11 in just under 33 minutes of action.

Ethan Igbanugo scored 15 points for the second straight game, going 5-for-9 on shots and also rattling in a trio of threes to go alongside his three assists, block and six drawn fouls.

Filip Rebraca notched his 30th straight game in double figures with 13 points and 11 rebounds to notch his third double-double of the season and 18th of his career. Seybian Sims was the final Fighting Hawk with at least 10 points, dropping 11 for the second straight game and grabbing four rebounds in just 20 minutes of action due to foul trouble.

It was a bit of a sluggish start of both teams out of the gate, with neither side able to find a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. South Dakota (11-8, 9-2 Summit League) seemed to find its groove first, jumping out to an 11-4 lead with just over four minutes gone in the first half. The three pointer got the Fighting Hawks going over the next few minutes, with Igbanugo, Rebraca and Mitchell Sueker all knocking one down on three straight possessions to cut the USD lead to one, 14-13, with 11 minutes remaining in the period.

UND continued to pressure the Coyotes and make shots, moving in front at the charity stripe. Sims, Igbanugo and Sueker all got into the paint and forced their ways to the line before a quick five points by Panoam put the Hawks in the lead, 31-27, with just under four minutes remaining in the half.

After USD trimmed the advantage to two, the hosts closed the first half with seven of the final 10 points, capped off by another Panoam triple, to send the Hawks to the locker room with a 38-32 lead.

Over those first 20 minutes, the Hawks connected on seven of their 11 attempts from three to help build the lead while holding USD to just 2-for-10 in the same category.

Out of the halftime break, North Dakota extended the lead to 10 with a strong spurt from Igbanugo. The junior scored five straight points, both off sweet feeds from Tyree Ihenacho, before the freshman pulled up from three himself to make it an 11-point lead, 60-49, with 11:22 to play.

A small run by the Coyotes cut it back to five, but Panaom and Igbanugo were at it again for the Hawks, with Igbanugo drilling a three before finding Panoam for a beautiful, up-and-under basket plus the foul to put the green and white back up by 11, 67-56, as the clock passed eight minutes remaining.

Over the next few minutes, A.J. Plitzuweit took over. The Augustana transfer hit triples on three of the next four possessions for the Yotes and sank a jumper on the one he didn’t need three on to put the visitors back in front, 72-71, with just under five to go.

Last weekend in Denver, North Dakota watched the Pioneers rally on back-to-back nights from double-digit deficits, and learned from its own errors on this day by responding with eight straight points to jump right back in front by seven, 79-72, with 2:55 remaining. Sims flipped the momentum of the game towards the hosts, hitting a corner three while getting fouled to complete the four-point play before an Ihenacho steal led to a Panoam jumper on the next possession. Rebraca capped off the run with a jumper of his own to put the junior into double figures and restore the lead to seven for UND.

South Dakota closed the gap to three, but that was as close as the Coyotes would get, with Rebraca and Panoam closing the game out at the charity stripe to give UND the 85-76 win.

North Dakota will go for the weekend sweep and four straight wins over South Dakota on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. from the Betty.

NOTES: Filip Rebraca has reached double figures in 30 straight games … Rebraca collected his third double-double of the season and 18th of his career, which is a Division I record at UND … Tyree Ihenacho had a career-high eight assists, the most since Marlon Stewart’s eight at Omaha on Feb. 26, 2020 … Panoam’s career high was his best mark since he scored 18 vs. Minnesota-Morris on Nov. 17, 2018 … UND improves to 7-8 this season coming off a loss and 6-2 in league play … The nine-point margin of victory was the largest of the season for the Hawks … UND won the rebounding battle, 40-32 … The 14 made threes by UND are a season high … This was the first win over South Dakota at the Betty since Jan. 15, 2011 and the first time the Hawks have beaten the Coyotes in three straight since 2011.

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