Fighting Hawks grind out 63-60 road victory at Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (UND Athletics) -- Cortez Seales knocked down a pair of free throws with 13 seconds to play and a Darius Roy triple at the buzzer missed the mark as the University of North Dakota men’s basketball team held on for a 63-60 road victory over Milwaukee on Saturday evening at UW Panthers Arena.

A trio of Fighting Hawks (2-0) scored in double figures in the win, led by Conner Avants and his 14 points. The senior connected on 6-of-9 from the field while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out two assists.

Seales, who struggled from the field with a 4-for-18 night, was big in the clutch for the Hawks with a jumper to extend the lead to eight and the final two shots from the charity stripe to cement the win. The senior played a game-high 35 minutes for the visitors, tallying five boards and a trio of helpers.

Kienan Walter was the final Fighting Hawk in double figures with 10 points on a 3-for-6 shooting effort from the field. The Vancouver, Wash., native matched Avants with seven rebounds to finish second on the team while also finishing with a trio of blocks.

Overall, UND finished with a 43-40 advantage on the boards and were led by Filip Rebraca’s eight in his first collegiate game after being deemed eligible by the NCAA on Friday.

After Milwaukee (0-2) scored the game’s opening points, the visitors clamped down on the defensive side of the ball by holding the Panthers scoreless for the next 5:06 and tallying a trio of buckets themselves to take a 6-2 lead. The 2-0 advantage for the hosts proved to be the lone lead of the night for the Panthers.

UND built its lead to 11-6 on a triple from Jal Bijiek and the embarked on another scoring run to quickly take control of the first half. Seales tallied four points while Billy Brown scored five of his seven points on the night during the spurt to extend the lead to 20-9 with 4:35 to play in the first half.

Walter put the finishing touches on the opening 20 minutes for the Hawks with a triple to send the visitors to the locker room with a 30-17 advantage. UND held the Panthers to just 20.0% (7-for-35) in the first stanza after Milwaukee had jumped out to a large first-half lead on Boston College in its previous game.

Milwaukee opened the second half with a run to close the gap to single digits, but back-to-back layups by Aanen Moody and Seales pushed the lead back to double figures, 42-29, with 12:36 to play in regulation.

UND maintained a lead throughout most of the second half, but the Panthers began to claw back into the contest as the clock ticked closer to zero. Milwaukee shaved a 10-point UND cushion down to just three, 61-58, when Deandre Andre hit a triple in transition with just 27 seconds to play.

After a turnover by the Hawks, Roy hit a jumper to trim the game to just a single point, 61-60, with 16 seconds to play, but Seales drained both of his shots in the charity stripe and a desperation three by Roy was off-the-mark as UND held on for the 63-60 triumph.

North Dakota returns to action on Wednesday evening with a trip to the Bluegrass State to battle college basketball’s all-time winningest program, Kentucky, at 8 p.m. (CT) on SEC Network.