Rookies dazzle, veterans impress in 86-61 UND win

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) – Six months ago, a freak injury in practice left De’Sean Allen-Eikens’ season in doubt. However, on Thursday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, the redshirt freshman dazzled the 1,521 fans in attendance with 22 points, eight rebounds, and six assists to lead the Fighting Hawks past Crown College, 86-61.

The Williston, N.D., native connected on 8-of-12 from the field, including hitting three of his four attempts from distance, to pace all scorers in the contest. The 22 points are the most by a UND (1-0) player making his debut since Cortez Seales scored 27 against Minnesota Morris to open the 2015-16 season.

Filip Rebraca collected his third double-double of his young career with a career-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. The sophomore hit 10-of-13 from the field in 23 minutes of action to mark the first time since Jan. 20, 2018 at Northern Colorado that a UND player has scored at least 20 points and tallied 10+ rebounds.

Marlon Stewart, who led the squad in points, minutes, and assists last season, was the final player to reach double figures for the Hawks with 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and a game-high +33 rating.

As a team, UND shot at a 50% clip (33-of-66) while holding the Storm to only 34.3% (23-67) from the field. The Hawks also hit 10 triples, led by Allen-Eikens’ three, Aanen Moody’s two, and a pair from Bentiu Panoam. The turnover bug was the only area of concern for the hosts on Thursday, committing 19 compared to 11 from Crown College.

UND created separation early thanks to a barrage of threes in the opening minutes. After an old-fashioned 3-point play from Billy Brown, Moody followed with a triple before Stewart and Marko Coudreau connected on back-to-back threes to push the lead to 19-6 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the first half.

The Hawks pushed their lead to 26 in the first half following an 8-0 run capped off by a Gertautas Urbonavicius bucket before a Rebraca layup extended the advantage to 27, the highest of the opening stanza. Crown College closed the gap to 17 with a 7-0 spurt to send UND to the locker room with a 48-31 lead.

After UND increased its lead back into the 20s out of the halftime break, the Storm whittled it down to 19 on multiple occasions, but could never get closer. Panoam’s second three of the game gave UND its highest lead of the night, 28, with just over three minutes to play, as the Hawks closed out the win, 86-61.

NOTES: The victory was the first for Head Coach Paul Sather … UND has now won four straight over Crown College … The Hawks have now won 10 straight home openers and move to 1-0 for the fifth straight season … UND improves to 34-5 over the last three seasons when scoring 80-or-more points in a game.