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North Dakota holds off Nebraska, 75-74

(KVLY)
Published: Dec. 22, 2019 at 8:06 AM CST
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Despite playing 26 minutes, Davids Atelbauers is going to leave Saturday’s contest with just three points on the box score; however, his biggest play of the night is something that won’t show up on the stat sheet. The sophomore point guard did just enough to defend Dachon Burke’s shot at the buzzer to give North Dakota a 75-74 victory over Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday evening.

UND (6-7) led for nearly 34 minutes of the contest, but saw the game tied with just seven seconds to play before De’Sean Allen-Eikens hit the go-ahead free throw to give the visitors its first win over a Big Ten Conference opponent since 1933.

Marlon Stewart pieced together one of his best games in a North Dakota uniform, scoring a game-high 23 points, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out four assists in the state where he started his collegiate basketball career. The senior connected on nine of his 15 attempts from the field, while also draining all three of his attempts from the line to post his ninth 20-point game of his career.

Three other Fighting Hawks reached double figures in the win, with Filip Rebraca and Allen-Eikens each scoring 15 and Kienan Walter adding 14.

Rebraca tallied the seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds, collecting the final rebound of the game to secure the victory. The sophomore also hit 7-of-11 from the field to continue to pace the Summit League in shooting percentage as well as draining his first triple of the season in a game-high 39 minutes.

On top of hitting what proved to be the game-winning free throw, Allen-Eikens was solid against strong competition once again. The freshman grabbed six rebounds to go alongside his 15 points, including a huge offensive rebound in the final minute, added an assist, block, and a steal. The Williston, N.D., native has now scored at least 10 points in 11 of the 13 games this season.

Walter did his damage from distance, draining 4-of-8 to lead the team and record 14 points. The senior was also strong on the glass, becoming one of four players to have at least six rebounds. Walter also tallied a pair of assists and a steal.

UND received only eight points from its bench, but Bentiu Panoam, Brady Danielson, and Atelbauers each made their shots count while adding strong defense to help lead the Hawks to victory.

Nebraska (5-7) won the rebounding, 35-34, and the turnover battles, 13-11, but UND was able to outscore the Huskers on second-chance opportunities, 11-6, and points off turnovers, 16-15.

Both teams shot exactly 47.5% from the field, with UND needing two more field goals to accomplish the feat; however, it was the shots from distance and at the charity stripe that proved to be the difference in the game. The Hawks hit 11 threes compared to just nine for Nebraska, as well as going 6-of-8 at the line compared to 9-for-16 by the Huskers.

Nebraska jumped out to a hot start, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead, but UND answered with eight of the next 10 points to take a 10-8 lead at the game’s first media timeout following a Walter steal and triple on the other end.

UND kept its foot on the gas, pushing the lead to seven after Allen-Eikens hit a step-back triple and a Stewart layup, but the Huskers answered by trimming the deficit down to a pair, 21-19, with just over eight minutes to play in the first half.

The scoring slowed down after that, with neither team finding the hoop for over two minutes, but Stewart broke the drought with a tough shot near the end of the 30-second clock and a Rebraca triple on the ensuing possession to push the advantage to 26-22 at the final timeout before the break.

Rebraca and Walter put the finishing touches on the opening half, with the sophomore hitting his signature turnaround hook and Walter drilling a three to send the visitors to the locker room with a 35-30 advantage at the break.

Stewart kept the Fighting Hawks in front during the opening moments of the second half, scoring the team’s first five points of the stanza to help UND weather an early push from the Huskers. The hosts eventually cut the lead to one, 40-39, but Walter answered right back with a triple off the feed from Atelbauers before the Latvian added a three of his own to push the advantage back to seven, 46-39, with 14:42 to play.

After another offensive dry spell for both teams, Nebraska once again began to trim the deficit, but UND responded once again. After the Huskers hit a shot to make it a 49-46 game, Danielson drilled a three from the right wing and Stewart added two makes at the charity stripe to put UND back up by eight, 54-46, at the halfway mark of the second half.

Walter, Stewart, and Allen-Eikens all struck again to keep UND’s lead at eight with just over eight minutes to play, but the Huskers ignited the crowd with a furious comeback. The hosts scored the next eight points over a three-minute span to tie the game at 61 with five minutes to play. It marked the first time the game had been tied since it was 10-10 with 14:22 to play in the first half.

The game was not tied for long, however, as Stewart drove to the line, drew the foul, and sank the acrobatic shot for the three-point play and a 64-61 UND lead.

A deep triple by Allen-Eikens and a basket by Rebraca put UND in front, 69-66, but five straight from the Huskers put them in front, 71-69, with 1:42 to play. The first deficit in a long time did not phase the Hawks, as Allen-Eikens was able to fight for an offensive rebound, score, and draw the foul for another three-point play and the 72-71 advantage.

After a stop on the other end, Walter hit a layup after another great offensive rebound by Allen-Eikens to put the Hawks up by three, 74-71, with under a minute to play, but Cam Mack drilled a three to tie the contest at 74 entering the final 30 seconds of the contest.

The freshman was able to earn another trip to the line with seven seconds to play, sinking one of two attempts before Atelbauers forced a miss as time expired on the other end to give UND the 75-74 win.

North Dakota will enjoy a break for Christmas before returning to action on Dec. 29 at Pac-12 foe Oregon State. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. and can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.

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