Balanced scoring, hot shooting leads UND to season-opening victory

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- On a night where 11 players saw collegiate basketball action for the first time in their careers, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks opened up the 2018-19 season with a 104-48 victory over Northland College at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on Tuesday.

Redshirt freshman Aanen Moody, playing in his first basketball game in nearly two years, scored a game-high 20 points thanks to a 6-for-10 shooting night from downtown to help pace the Fighting Hawks (1-0) to victory. The former North Dakota Mr. Basketball also recorded a trio of assists, grabbed two boards, and a steal.

Cortez Seales helped UND get settled in early by scoring 12 of his 16 points in the opening half on a near-perfect 6-for-8 night from the field while also causing havoc on the defensive side of the ball with a pair of steals and rebounds.

Newcomer Elijah Hazekamp reached double figures in first-collegiate contest with 14 points, including hitting a pair from beyond-the-arc. The Sioux City, Iowa, native also grabbed eight rebounds to finish second on the squad in boards.

Ethan Igbanugo, one of four Fighting Hawks to reach double figures, finished a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, all from three-point land, to tally 12 points.

Conner Avants, who led the team with three double-doubles a season ago, just missed achieving the feat on Tuesday evening with nine points and nine boards in just 12 minutes of game action.

In all, a total of nine Fighting Hawks made their debuts on Tuesday, as Davids Atelbauers, Zac Saddler, Bentiu Panoam, Marko Coudreau, Jal Bijiek, and Carter Brooks all donned the green and white for the first time.

The Fighting Hawks quickly jumped out to an early lead, as Seales started the scoring with an and-one before the senior tallied another eight points along with an Avants jumper to stake the hosts out to a 12-3 lead with 14:55 to play in the opening half.

Moody began to take over as the first half wore on, draining a trio of triples and added a steal to help the Hawks on a 13-4 run to build their advantage up to 39-13 with just under seven to go in the stanza.

Igbanugo capped off the hot-shooting first half with back-to-back threes to send UND to the locker room with a 56-21 halftime lead.

On the other side of the intermission, the Hawks scored 13 of the first 15 points of the frame to push the cushion up to 46 points, 69-23, with less than five minutes played in the half.

Ibanugo’s fourth triple of the evening stretched the lead above 50 for the final time as UND rolled to a 104-48 victory.

North Dakota returns to action on Saturday evening with a trip to Milwaukee to battle the Panthers at 6 p.m. in the first road tilt of the year.

NOTES: UND shot 53.8% from the floor while holding the Lumberjacks to just 32.3% on the evening … The Hawks drained 20-of-24 (83.3%) from the charity stripe … UND’s 14 triples were just two short of the team record of 16 … UND finished with a 68-17 advantage in bench points … Every player who saw action for UND played at least 10 minutes, with only Davids Atelbauers playing more than 20 (21) … The Fighting Hawks have now won nine straight home openers … Tuesday marks the first time since 11/20/17 vs. Presentation College that UND has cracked 100 points … The 56-point victory is the second-largest win in the Division I era (2008-present) behind only a 58-point triumph over Illinois Tech on 11/28/08.