Fighting Hawks falter late in 67-54 defeat vs. Idaho

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- A 41-26 scoring advantage in the second half by visiting Idaho boosted the Vandals past North Dakota, 67-54, on Saturday afternoon at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

UND (4-4) held the lead for just over 24 minutes of the contest, but Idaho (3-4) clamped down on the defensive side of the ball by holding the Fighting Hawks scoreless over the final 5:42 of the tilt to escape with its third straight win over North Dakota.

Filip Rebraca led all UND players with 19 points on an 8-for-13 shooting afternoon, a new career high in points. The true freshman, who was making his third start of the season, also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded a steal.

Idaho saw a pair of players reach double figures in the win, led by Trevon Allen’s 19 points. Freshman Cameron Tyson, who has led the Vandals in scoring each of the first six games, poured in 13 points on 4-of-7 from deep.

The visitors shot .490 from the field over 40 minutes, but exploded in the second half by connecting on 15-of-23 (.652) from the field to help the Vandals to a 41-point period. UND was plagued with its worst shooting performance of the season at .364 (20-55), only the second time this season that the Hawks have shot under .400.

UND won the battle on the boards for the fifth time this season, collecting 12 offensive rebounds and 23 defensive boards for a total of 35 and holding Idaho to just 30. Saturday, however, marks the first time this season that the Hawks have fallen in a game with a positive rebounding margin.

North Dakota started out strong, scoring seven of the game’s first nine points thanks to a quick five from Rebraca. The freshman started the game with a layup before hitting a three from the top of the arc to quickly push the Hawks to a 7-2 lead just 3:28 into the contest.

Idaho answered quickly with a 6-0 run on back-to-back triples from Tyson and Allen as the visitors took what proved to be its only lead of the opening half, 8-7, at the first media timeout.

Leading 13-11, UND found it tough to miss as the Hawks connected on four of their next shots to rattle off a quick eight points on a pair of threes from Davids Atelbauers and Billy Brown and a jumper from Rebraca to put UND up, 21-15, with 8:20 to play in the half.

The hosts maintained its advantage for the remainder of the opening stanza, thanks to some strong defensive plays. Cortez Seales provided the highlight of the half by leaping for a rejection on a Tyson drive to the basket and springing an offensive opportunity the other way. The Hawks looked to be going into the half with a four-point lead, but a foul on Atelbauers with just under a second on the clock gave Idaho three shots at the charity stripe to cut the deficit to 28-26 after 20 minutes of play.

Despite a few early turnovers, UND still controlled the opening portions of the second half. Rebraca once again started the scoring with back-to-back buckets in the paint, including a monster dunk off a sweet feed from Brown, to restore the six-point lead, 32-26.

After Idaho tied the game at 36, Aanen Moody hit one of his three makes from distance on the afternoon following some strong passing to attack the zone defense by Brown to put UND up, 39-36, with just over 13 minutes to play.

The Vandals answered just beyond the 12-minute mark as Tyson hit a three in corner while being fouled to send the freshman to the line for a four-point play, giving Idaho a 42-41 lead. Following a missed triple on the other end, the visitors used a 6-1 run to grab a 48-42 advantage and force a UND timeout with 10:34 to play.

Out of the timeout, Moody hit another three to cut the deficit immediately in half, but Idaho answered again with an old-fashioned three-point play and a layup to extend the lead to 53-45. UND looked to turn the momentum following the Idaho bucket as Bentiu Panoam, making his first-collegiate start, drove to the rim and threw down a ferocious, one-handed dunk over the defender to bring the 1,684 fans to their feet with just under nine minutes remaining.

The dunk seemed to energize the Hawks, scoring five of the next seven points to close the gap down to three, 55-52, with 6:57 to go. Rebraca capped off the run with a hoop plus the harm in the paint, but Tyson answered right back with a three of his own to quiet the crowd and push the lead back up to six, 58-52.

Avants looked to spark North Dakota again with a steal and two-handed slam to chip the advantage down to four, 58-54, with 5:42 to play, but the Hawks were held scoreless for the remainder of the game as Idaho escaped with a 67-54 win.

North Dakota hits the road for a quick, one-game showdown against UT Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday evening as part of the Summit League/WAC Challenge Series against the team formerly known at UT Pan American in its Great West Conference days.