Sunday, Senior, Sweep

North Dakota men's basketball
North Dakota men's basketball(KVLY)
Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 9:54 PM CST
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) - Four players reached double figures as North Dakota defeated South Dakota, 85-81, on Sunday afternoon to close out a weekend sweep at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

UND (8-15, 7-7) connected on 11 triples, including six straight to begin the second half, to boost the Fighting Hawks to their first series sweep of the season and back to the .500 mark in a crowded Summit League standings.

Just 24 hours after pouring in a career-high 25 points, senior Bentiu Panoam shined again on his weekend with a team-high 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting while also grabbing a pair of rebounds in 31 minutes of action. The senior was clutch at the charity stripe for the Hawks, going 8-for-9 at the line to help UND salt away the win in the final moments.

Filip Rebraca did his usual thing in the win, matching his season average of 17 points to notch his 31st straight game in double figures. Despite being held to just three rebounds, UND helped out its junior by grabbing boards as a team with seven-different players having multiple rebounds.

Mitchell Sueker came off the bench and provided a spark offensively, scoring 15 points on a perfect 3-for-3 day from three while adding two boards, an assist and a steal to finish a team-best +19. Caleb Nero was the final Fighting Hawk to cross the 10-point plateau with 13 points, eight of those coming in the second half, on a 5-for-8 shooting afternoon to go alongside his team-best two steals.

Tyree Ihenacho was all over the box score for the hosts, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds, 10 on the defensive side, along with seven assists and seven points. Ethan Igbanugo finished second on the team with four assists to help UND dish out 14 on the day.

It was a similar start to yesterday’s contest, with both sides starting with a lot of pace, but not a lot of offensive rhythm. North Dakota found its footing first about six minutes in, with Rebraca and Sueker each knocking down a three before a Nero jumper gave the Hawks a 12-8 lead with 13:20 to play in the first half.

The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, but after a USD basket to put the Coyotes up 22-21 with 7:16 on the clock, UND took over. The Hawks embarked on a 15-2 run, including scoring those 15 points consecutively, to end the half to take a 36-24 lead into the locker room. It was a three-headed attack of Panoam, Igbanugo and Ihenacho who spearheaded the effort with three, five and two points, respectively, but it was Ihenacho’s trio of assists that helped get the Hawks going.

Out of the break, UND was flawless from three, knocking down its first six attempts to build the lead to as high as 23, 63-40, with 11:20 to play in the contest. The Hawks answered every Coyote make with a basket of their own, often coming from distance, as the sold-out crowd at the Betty gave the hosts a standing ovation at the under-12 media stoppage.

Similar to yesterday, A.J. Plitzuweit began to take over from three in the final portion of the second half, scoring 31 of his game-high 34 points in the stanza to carve the UND lead down to just six, 78-72, with a minute to go. The Augustana transfer made it a four point game following a trio of makes at the charity stripe, but that was as close as the Coyotes would get until a Stanley Umude three in the dying seconds closed the game with an 85-81 score.

North Dakota returns to action on Friday night for the penultimate game of the regular season at Omaha at 7 p.m. from Baxter Arena.

For more news on UND men’s basketball, visit Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @UNDmbasketball.

NOTES: Filip Rebraca has reached double figures in 31 straight games … Tyree Ihenacho’s 11 rebounds were a career-high … Bentiu Panoam notched back-to-back 20-point games for the first time in his career … He did not have a 20-point game entering this weekend … UND connected on a 11-of-21 threes … UND improves to 1-13 when its opponent shoots a higher percentage than them … The Hawks went 22-of-29 at the line compared to just 10-of-11 for USD … UND moves to 46-10 over the last four seasons when scoring at least 80 points and 12-5 under Paul Sather … This marks the first time UND has won four straight over USD since the 1986-1988 seasons when the Sioux won five straight … The Hawks are now 7-23 against DI opponents located along I-29 and are 5-6 against those schools in 2020-21 … USD won the rebounding battle, 40-29.

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