Hot-shooting Griz put UND away early

MISSOULA, Mont. (UND Athletics) -- A hot-shooting Montana team blitzed North Dakota early en route to a 109-79 victory in Big Sky play Thursday at Dahlberg Arena. Juniors Ahmaad Rorie and Jamar Akoh each scored a game-high 22 points and the duo led four Grizzlies (10-5, 3-0 BSC) in double figures.

Montana came out firing and did not cool off in the first half as the Griz built a 50-29 advantage at the break on the strength of 58 percent shooting from the floor. The home team would finish shooting at a season-best 62 percent clip.

"It was the start of the game," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "That is what we talk about every time we come into this building. We came out right away and mishandled a (pass down low), missed a layup on our next possession and we were on heels after that."

Freshman Tray Buchanan scored a career-high 16 points pace UND in the outing and has reached double figures in two of three league games off the bench.

Sophomore Marlon Stewart added 15 points for the Fighting Hawks in what was the seventh-straight loss for the visitors. Senior Dale Jones was the third Fighting Hawk to finish in double figures with 13 points.

The Fighting Hawks managed those 29 first-half points despite going seven-plus minutes without a point to open the contest. The Griz took advantage of an 0-for-10 start from the floor by the visitors to race out to a 14-0 advantage.

Buchanan broke the scoreless drought for UND with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. From there, the teams played fairly even before Montana closed the half on a 13-5 run to take its largest lead of the game into its locker room.

Karl Nicholas was a spark off the bench for the Griz, scoring 10 points in the first half with three of his field goals coming on thunderous dunks. He also blocked pair of shots and had a steal. The freshman finished with a career-high 17 points and did not miss any of his eight field goal attempts.

Rorie also had 10 points in that opening half for the Griz, who finished 19-for-33 from the field. UND shot just 30 percent from the floor, including a 3-for-15 effort from 3-point territory in those opening 20 minutes and finished with a 38-percent effort.

UM would finish a season-best 8-for-14 from 3-point land, while UND went 8-for-31. Akoh added a game-high 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double to help the Grizzlies hold a 39-33 edge in that category.

UND will concluded its Big Sky road swing Saturday at Montana State. Tip-off against the Bobcats, who also improved to 3-0 in league play with a win Thursday, is set for 3 p.m. CT.