High-powered offense guides Omaha past North Dakota

OMAHA, Neb. (UND Athletics) -- Omaha used a late run in the second half to pull away for a 90-72 victory over North Dakota on Sunday afternoon at Baxter Arena in Omaha.

After trailing by as many as 20 in the second half, UND (9-14, 3-7 Summit League) erupted on a 16-0 run to trim the deficit down to just four with just around seven minutes to play, but the Mavericks (13-9, 7-2 Summit League) weathered the storm and answered with a spurt of their own to hold on for the victory.

Cortez Seales pieced together one of his most dynamic games of the season as the senior was on triple-double watch throughout the afternoon. Just two days removed from a career-high 15 rebounds, Seales posted a team-high 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, eight rebounds, and seven assists for the Fighting Hawks. The senior has now reached double figures in points for the 17th time this season and has led the team in scoring for the fifth time.

Billy Brown just missed topping a new career-high in points with 16 on an efficient 6-of-9 afternoon from the field. The junior hit four of his five attempts from deep while also collecting three rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals.

Aanen Moody had his best shooting day since the previous two teams met on Jan. 10 as the redshirt freshman hit 5-of-8, all from deep, to score 15 points. Sunday marks the fifth time this season that Moody has recorded five-or-more makes from behind-the-arc to help pace the 12 makes by UND on the day.

Kienan Walter was the final Fighting Hawk in double figures with 10 points, all coming in the first half. The junior has now recorded back-to-back games with 10+ points for the third time this season.

Omaha won the rebounding battle, 31-29, dropping the Fighting Hawks to 1-13 this season losing the battle of the boards. The Mavericks also dominated the paint offensively, outscoring UND 52-26 in the paint and 14-8 on second-chance opportunities.

UND held the Mavericks to a season-low four makes from three, but the hosts connected on 35-of-56 attempts from inside the arc in the victory. All five starters for UNO were in double figures, as Zach Jackson finished with a game-high 22 points for Omaha while JT Gibson also poured in 20 points to lead both sides.

As expected between these two teams, points came fast and furiously in the opening portion of the game as there were five ties and eight lead changes through the first nine minutes. After UND created a little separation after a pair of Walter makes at the line and a Moody triple in transition to put the visitors up 16-12, Omaha answered with six straight of its own to take an 18-16 advantage at the midway point of the half.

The Mavericks continued to pressure the Fighting Hawks, forcing eight turnovers through the first 12 minutes of action and embarking on a 15-3 run over a 5:35 stretch to build a 27-19 lead with 7:32 to play in the stanza. Omaha continued to pull away during the second portion of the first half, extending the lead to as high as 16 before Seales hit a triple to stop the run and trim in the deficit down to 40-27 with three minutes to play.

The spurts continued to end the half as Omaha extended the lead to a half-high 17 points, but the Hawks responded with five straight of their own before the Mavericks ended the stanza with four straight points to carry a 49-33 advantage into the locker room.

While the Mavs are known as a high-octane offense from deep, UND did a strong job running them off the three-point line and forcing misses from distance. Omaha connected on only one of its six attempts from three, but hit 21-of-34 from inside the arc to build the lead. UNO also outscored UND, 32-6, in the paint, 16-0 in the fast break, and turned nine UND turnovers into 15 points.

Omaha extended the lead to 20, but UND started to mount a comeback as the Fighting Hawks erupted for 10 straight points, capped off by a Moody triple in transition to put the redshirt freshman into double figures for the first time since the last time these two teams met, to cut the deficit down to 64-54 with 11:39 to play.

The run stretched to 16 consecutive points for the visitors as Brown and Moody hit back-to-back triples to cut the deficit down to just four, 64-60, with over seven minutes to play. The four-point advantage by Omaha was the smallest since the Mavs lead 23-19 with 9:12 to play in the first half. UNO answered with six straight of its own to quickly restore the advantage to double digits, 75-65, with six and half remaining.

The four-point deficit was as close as UND would get as Omaha was able to control the final six minutes to capture the 90-72 victory.

North Dakota returns to action on Wednesday for the second chapter of the in-state rivalry with North Dakota State from the Betty. The contest is slated for a 7 p.m. start.