North Dakota earns trip to championship game with win over Purdue Fort Wayne
One day after knocking off No. 3 seed South Dakota in the semifinals, No. 6 seed North Dakota pushed through to the semifinals with a 73-56 win over No. 7 seed Purdue Fort Wayne in the Mastodons final game as a league member. The Fighting Hawks advance to the tournament finals, where they square off against in-state rival and top-seeded North Dakota State.
The Mastodons scored first, but the Fighting Hawks scored 11 of the next 13 points to open an early 11-5 lead. Purdue Fort Wayne fought back to cut the lead to 13-11, with just over 13 minutes on the clock, only to see UND rattle-off a off a 13-0 run capped by a Gertautas Urbonavicius three-pointer from the top of the key, his only points of the game, that put the Hawks up 26-11 with eight minutes left in the opening half.
Purdue Fort Wayne fired back with an 8-0 run over the next four minutes to cut the lead to 26-19, but Marlon Stewart snapped the run with a three-pointer to get the lead back to 10 points, but it fell back to seven points at 32-25 at halftime.
North Dakota opened the second half on a 10-2 run to push its lead to 42-27, but the Mastodons roared back later in the half with a 7-0 spurt to cut the lead to 44-38, only to see the Fighting Hawks score seven straight to push the lead back to 38-51 midway through the half.
UND quickly got the lead back into double figures, where it stayed for the rest of the game.
Kienan Walter led four scored a game-high 20 points and led four Fighting Hawks in double figures. Steward finished with 15 points, Filip Rebraca added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and De'Sean Allen-Eikens 10 points in the win.
Matt Holba led a trio of Mastodons in double figures with 17 points, with Jarred Godfrey pitching in with 13 and Dylan Carl 10 points in the loss.