Stewart’s career night leads UND past NDSU, 71-68

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- “I don’t think I’ve ever hit a game winner before, so that was crazy.”

You have now, Marlon.

Marlon Stewart hit a triple with 0.9 seconds to play to cap off a career-high 35 points and give North Dakota (13-15, 7-7 Summit League) a 71-68 victory over in-state rival North Dakota State (20-8, 11-3 Summit League) on Saturday evening from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

The Rock Island, Ill., native hit 13 field goals for the first 35-point outing by a UND player since Geno Crandall dropped 41 vs. Troy to open the 2017-18 season. Stewart also added six assists and grabbed five boards in a game-high 38:50 of action.

Stewart has now scored at least 10 points in 21 straight games and was the 10th time in 14 league games he has crossed the 20-point plateau.

Filip Rebraca was the other Fighting Hawk in double figures with his second straight 20-point game while adding a game-high nine rebounds. The sophomore connected on 10-of-16 from the field and had a pair of rejections to help the Hawks snap a 14-game losing streak against league foes located on Interstate 29.

North Dakota finished at 46.6% from the floor, despite going just 4-of-21 from three, while holding NDSU to just 45% from the field to move to 5-0 in league play when outshooting its opponent.

North Dakota State won the rebounding battle, 37-32, but UND forced the Bison into 14 turnovers leading to 11 points while only committing eight on the night.

Stewart was all over the floor for the Fighting Hawks in the first half, scoring 19 points, dishing out three assists, and grabbing two rebounds to keep the hosts down by just a pair, 38-36, heading to the locker room.

Much like Wednesday’s battle with South Dakota State, the offenses were clicking at a high clip. NDSU shot just over 54% but turned it over 10 times to spark seven UND points. The Hawks hit nearly 43% of their shots, but struggled to only a 2-for-9 mark from three, while the Bison hit five of their eight tries from distance.

It was a back-and-forth start to the second half, with both teams taking leads. After the Bison pulled ahead by six thanks to a two minute scoring drought by the hosts, but the UND defense responded by holding the visitors scoreless for the ensuing 3:33 to cut the deficit to a pair, 52-50, with just over seven minutes to play.

Stewart helped knot the game at 60 with a spectacular driving finish plus the foul before Rebraca grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to send the 2,686 fans into a frenzy and give the Hawks a 62-60 lead with just over two minutes to play.

UND extended the advantage to five, 68-63, on another Stewart jumper, but five straight points by Tyson Ward, including a three-point play, tied the game at 68 with 21 seconds to play. Stewart capped off his career night with a stepback three with 0.9 on the clock to give the Hawks a 71-68 lead before NDSU’s final shot at the horn came up short to give UND the victory in the 299th meeting between the schools.

North Dakota returns to action on Wednesday night with a critical showdown against Omaha from Baxter Arena at 7 p.m.

NOTES: The win over the Bison is the first at home since 2013 and the first conference win over NDSU since 2004 … Marlon Stewart has now scored in double figures in 21 straight games … Filip Rebraca has scored 62 points over his last three games since returning to the starting lineup ... UND moves to 162-137 against NDSU in its history and 97-46 in Grand Forks … UND has surpassed its win total from last season in both league play and overall … Brady Danielson made his first-career start … The 35 points by Stewart were just three off the Betty record (38 by Quinton Hooker vs. Portland State).